The oh so sad face when Eli gets his "Stay Collar". The old chap only gets his leather collar with ID when we are leaving the house and he knows it. His walking collar is a different story. The dog loses his mind when he sees that one come out. Unfortunately for us not everywhere we go is all species tolerable. Today is no exception to that rule. We spent the morning kickn' back in the RV park looking at the clouds and left around noon to go see Katie's uncle Bill. Before we stop over we decided to take a closer look at some parts of LA. We started out cruising along Mulholland Drive on the northwest side. This curvy mountain road was laid out along the ridges of the hills and gave way to multi-million dollar houses. They weren't that impressive, just a normal house with a view of the city. After getting passed and honked at by all these crazy ass LA drivers we dropped back down into the city. Beverly Hills, that's where I want to be.
I popped open Zillow on my phone and started checking the prices. The cheapest house in town was 2.5 million. This was for a 5 bedroom 4 bath villa coming in at 2,222 sq ft. If you happen to not be such a pour schlub you can always splurge for he 85 million dollar manison that's 11 bedrooms and 18 baths spread out across 28,000 sq ft. With our gawking over it was time to hit up the tar pits.
Time is short. I'm running the show when it comes to being on time and we've only got 15 minutes before we have to bail. Kaite requested to see what she could and I lined up the itinerary for the morning. She's been driving through the horrendous traffic and I've been picking out the stops on the way. This place happens to be a natural tar pit. Hundreds of thousands of years ago animals from the ice age walked into these waters and never escaped. There have been 1,000's of skeletons removed from there death hold. The museum on site showcases wooly-mammoths, saber tooth tigers, and rhinos. The air is filled with the thick putrid smell of fresh asphalt and the water continues to boil as a cauldron filled with methane and petroleum.
Time's up. Back to Shirley and 3 miles to the East to get back over to Hollywood. We pull into Uncle Bill's house who just happens to be a couple of blocks from Hollywood Blvd. We're greeted with a smile and hugs, and one ominous warning. "Lock you doors." Wait.. what? We're only a couple of blocks from the walk of fame. We settle in and get to chat with Bill really for the first time ever. This trip has done that for both of us. So far we've each met a family member for the first time.
Bill makes us feel right at home as we start to relax in the backyard. He explains to us that he's been in the area for 30 years and how his neighborhood is on a path facing downhill. It's a shame since there is so much potential for this place to be booming. We both look at each other like we're nuts. We think he's mad for living in the middle of LA around all the chaos and wearing a sweater when it's 65 degrees out, he thinks we're nuts for traveling the country and calling Wisconsin home, where people shovel snow wearing a t-shirt. A little more time passes by and it's time to eat. Katie prompts him for a suggestion "Where is there a good place to eat nearby?" His response is quick. "You like burgers? Let's go to IN-and-Out. I'll drive." Music to my ears. This place is mad house of traffic.
He makes it look easy. Bolting in and out of lanes and weaving through the back streets of one ways and parked cars. It's beginning to make sense. Less than five minutes later and we're further than I could of drove in 15. The fast food place is PACKED. There are literally cars on the street waiting to turn in. This is normal..... this is the LA life. With dinner down we head back and say our goodbyes. Nice to meet you Uncle Bill, you're a cool ass dude.
Gross. The streets are dirty. Everything looks like it's sticky and full of bits of trash. There are countless homeless and panhandlers on the street harassing people for money or to buy tickets to go somewhere. This is not what we imagined.
The walk of fame was a complete letdown. Many of the stars are broken and the black tiles around them were missing pieces. We had even seen a few where they were patched with straight up blacktop to fill in the gaps. Katie damn near rolled her ankle on an unmarked hole, and there were countless others that just had a orange cone in front of the problem.
The tour buses were downright ghetto. They were just vans that someone cut the top off with a zaw-zaw and placed some padding around the sharp edges. Most of them were dented and had paint scraped off along the side. Katie elected to spend some of our hard earned cash at the Wax Museum on the main street. It was a nice distraction from the trash outside.
Walking up to the figures was actually a little creepy. The majority of them looked pretty good and the shiny glass eyeballs made it seem as if they were looking at your soul. By far the Samuel L Jackson figure was the most lifelike. We spent an hour tooling around looking at the sculptures before we hit the streets once more.
With the "Walk of Fame" out of the way we dropped back down south towards home. On the way we stopped off at the Farmer's Market. It was a nice stroll through overpriced stores and fruit stands.
The highlight of my day was seeing a $300,000 rolls royce phantom wrapped in chrome with the word "VIETRAW" on the side. It was even complete with two red dragons on the hood. Think of it as the ultimate middle finger to stuck up assholes who drive a 300k car.
Overall our take away is this. Hollywood sucked. Don't waste your time and go somewhere else.
No plans and no where to be. Sounds like a day to lounge around the beach and even out my horrendous farmers tan. Besides, we had martini's last night and I had one too many. So it't to the sand with a blanket an a cooler full of water for a nap. After the majority of the day passes by we finally get Eli out for a jog. He's been cooped up for two days and needs to stretch it out a little bit.
Homeboy gets tethered to the bike and we set out for a mile long run. Upon our return we drop off furball and set out on our own for another 5 mile jaunt. It's a well laid out path with some easy up and down slopes.
The sun falls and the winds pick up. Clouds roll into the park so dense that we can't even see the planes taking off. The park has filled to capacity and people are out and about. It's starting to get loud. The dodgers are playing in the world series this weekend. People start to fill in the gaps between trailers while screaming at the top of there lungs late into the night. Sleep will be hard to come by tonight.
Today will undoubtedly be an adventure for us. Driving the rig through LA's infamous traffic is sure to be a treat. Can't wait. We've got enough fuel in Roo to get to LA and back out. There's no point in filling it up and carrying the extra weight through the mountains once more. Our water is damn near empty and Roo is ready to take a dump. We slam through the gears and roll down hwy 14 south into the northern side of LA. Out here the sun never goes away and we haven't seen a cloud for nearly a week. Makes sense that this would be the perfect place for solar panels.
Traffic is flowing freely and things are looking good. We sneak up on the hills outside of LA that hold the cities borders tightly together. We're at 2,500 feet and need to start the climb to the summit. It's 90 degrees out and Roo is feeling the stress. So it's off the throttle and down two gears in the truck lane to make the ascent.
It's about 2pm when we finally hit the suburbs of LA. The infamous traffic shows us why this place is a nightmare. Hwy 5 south to the 405 is 7 lanes wide in spots and people are fighting for their positon.
After an hour of traffic Dockweiler RV park was in view. This is a county ran RV park on the beach. It's a parking lot with hookups that lies as close to LAX as you can get. It's a trade-off of plane noise for parking, which is extremely limited and expensive out here. We hooked up Roo to the tune of $55 a night for the next 6 days. This will be the longest we have ever stayed at one RV park.
There's 22 miles of bike trail paved out on the beach and we plan on taking full advantage of it. When I booked this spot I was excited to have a place to let Eli run, however there are signs saying no dogs allowed all along the park. It's like he's constantly discriminated against because of his species.
So we waited until dusk and took the dog for a walk anyway. Hey... gotta break the rules sometimes.
It's our 4th day hanging out in Spangler Hills. The lack of things to do is causing me to look further from home in order to find something exciting. Forty miles north of here is the natural formation of fossil falls. Pack your stuff and grab the dog, let's roll.
Eli has grown quite accustomed to sitting in the Jeep and takes a quick nap to get ready for the hike. I swear, he's the only dog I've ever seen close his eyes and sleep sitting up for a few minutes at a time. Less than 45 minutes later and we arrive at our location.
Spewed lava rock makes it feel like we are back int he Mojave. Broiling volcanoes lined the back of the Coso Range hundreds of thousands of years ago. They erupted molten lava across the landscape and created cinder cones sharp jagged rocks. Their activity was quieted by the ice age and the Sierra Nevada's to the west were used like an ice tray in the freezer. During the subsequent thaw, trillions of gallons of water ran down the mountains and formed most of the valleys and riverbeds still seen today. One of those riverbeds was cut from a solid lava bed creating the spectacular dry falls that can be hiked for the adventurous visitor.
The hike out to the falls was less than 1/4 mile. We failed as dog parents and left Eli's water and bowl back in the jeep. It's hot and he's thirsty. So we improvise and let him drink from a plasitc bag. Good enough for him.
On the way out we pass by a close cinder cone. This one is still being mined today. Cinder is used in the construction of roadways and sidewalks. Another use is for that oh so fabulous decorative lava rock. Do me a favor. If you still have any of this ugly ass rock in your house get rid of it. Even if you cover it in dirt and don't plant any grass, it'll still look better than the rock.
It's back on the road and south towards home. With time to kill I pull over to snap some pictures of a few local things.
This place is now damn near a ghost town. All 17 people in town have a collective total of about 4 hubcaps on their cars. Down the street I can spot a junkyard but the place is locked up and all the lights are off. What a shame. Looks like an amazing place to take a walk.
Back to Roo in the early afternoon and I'm already bored. Katie is slumped into the dinette bench watching TV. Well... guess I can go beat on Shirley.
I figured being the last day in the hills we should make it count. Once I returned to the RV Katie points out some new pinstripes on Shirley. Guess that's the price you pay to drive to a mine shaft in the desert. Oops.
Not a real exciting day. Not a whole lot to talk about. Katie and I lounged around the RV just trying to stay out of the heat. To kill a little time we went into town to check out the local thrift stores. Without fail there are two places that can give you a feel on the local community and what kind of people live there. #1: Go to Wal-Mart and see what the people are like. Watch how they talk to strangers and how terrible the children are in the hallways. #2: Go to the local thrift stores and see what kind of junk is laying around. Nice junk means the town has some money and thus is typically a higher class of people. Then there is the opposite side of things. If you go to the local thrift store and its wrapped in spun razor barbed wire.....
This place looked like where Goodwill's trash goes to die. Now to spend the rest of the day waiting out the heat for the sweet night time cold in darkness. Boring day.
Another day in Spangler Hills. We'll be here for a few days and need to kill some time today. This nearly 89 square mile park is home to hundreds of abandoned mines. During the gold rush in the 1800's there were so many mines dug they couldn't keep track of them all. A large majority of them have either been fenced off or bulldozed shut for safety. It's a good thing too, because it is awfully tempting to climb down a mine shaft and look for remnants of the days gone by. Ironically it is I that has to keep a stable head around these inviting holes. Katie is ready to climb down and explore. I'm way too concerned of collapse and especially worried about the lack of oxygen or deadly gas that could be down there.
We climb back into the Shirley and keep driving around. Not all of the holes have been covered or fenced in. Accidents have been known to happen out here from people falling into the chasms. Eli is smart enough to give it a check, without getting too close. The old boy has been running around unleashed for a couple days now and is loving it. He's a big boy and can make his own decisions.
Prior to heading out I grabbed my metal detector. Gold in these hills still lures people into the hills. What the hell, I've got nothing to lose.
What I didn't count on was the rocks in the area to be laden with copper. My metal detector kept telling me there was something every 4 feet. After a few false hits I gave up.
No matter where we travel weird things are bound to show up. Why is this here? No clue. Just leave the boots alone it says. With the day getting long it's time to rustle up some firewood. One thing I've learned is that you can almost always find someone's left over firewood in established campsites.
Jackpot. Like a couple of vultures scrounging for a meal the wood gets loaded onto Shirley's back. Sierra Nevada pine will make for a fine campfire underneath the desert stars.
Parking out amongst the dirt and rocks is starting to become real familiar territory. At first the desert was a place of mystery. Unexplored land for two people from Wisconsin. After a couple of weeks this place is starting to feel real comfortable. The mountains in the background are gorgeous every single day. The sunsets here... incredible. Even the weather is tolerable. Although it's 90 during the day, it drops into the 50's at night.
We'll be heading into town today to get a taste of the local flavor. The county fair is going on just 9 miles away. We buzz over to the parking lot and find out that tickets are $8 at the door. Uh, no thanks. The nice lady at the counter points at the Humane Society donation bin and explains to us that admission is free with any donation. All we need is a $1 can of cat food and we can stroll through the gates. So it's off to Wal-Mart for some quick shopping. We pick out a dog brush and a few cans of food. Neither one of us has a problem with spending a few bucks to help out the humane society. We practically have one ourselves.
After walking around for a bit we both talk about going on a ride. I don't even know why we bother having those conversations. Both of us are too cheap, and neither of us really want to go on one. My years of corporate training kicks in and I start looking at the rides. There's zip ties and duck tape. Extension cords being used where it should be hard wired. This place is sketchy. I've got no problem hopping on a roller coaster at six flags. I know that a team of engineers works there and inspects the rides on a regular ongoing basis. The chances of that happening with these rides seems pretty slim. I think I'll keep my ass off the mobile coffins and watch the action from the ground.
Just your typical fair. Small rides and overpriced food. Anyone who pays $7 for a funnel cake is an idiot. We continue to stroll until we see a dog show in progress. Twenty minute goes by and we witness a dog team that does about 1/2 of it's tricks correctly, and a real cheesy routine. Nothing special to see here.
Back home Katie starts to get things ready for dinner. She pulls out the cutting board and sees a couple of mouse turds. Fantastic. Looks like we picked up a traveler somewhere. The excitement doesn't end there. Turns out the little bastard likes silicone measuring cups too. Off to Wal-Mart for some DCON and a measuring cup. Guess life could be worse.
The drive out of Death Valley was supposed to be easy. I had made a plan ahead of time so there weren't any problems. The whole reason for the RV park was so we could hit the high elevation climb early and in low temps. With Shirley left unhooked we headed southwest into the hills. Starting at sea level Roo had to climb to 5,000 ft in order to escape the grip of Death Valley. She plunked along the fairly steady climb for 20 miles. Towards the end she was only doing 25mph in second gear. No big deal though, engine temps were under control and we've got nothing but time. We reached the summit and saw a place to pull over. Shirley gets hitched onto the back and we pull back out onto the road. Then just a 1/2 further I see the sign for the downhill portion. It's warning me that the next 7 miles is a 9% grade downhill. That's pretty damn steep. Katie asks if we should pull over and unhook Shirley. Brimming with confidence I say "Not a problem. The brakes on this RV are made for semis. Besides, the jeep brakes will be working too" (Shirley has a brake contraption that slows it down with the RV). I manually shift Roo down into the lowest gear I can and flip on the engine brake. Down the hill we go and the speed starts to gain quickly.
Stab brakes, release too let cool, repeat. Here's the problem. Typically on steep downhill grades you can still drive 50-60 mph. That helps cool the brakes and the wind resistance helps keep speed under control. This road is all switchbacks and we've got to keep it around 30 mph. Stab brakes, release too let cool, repeat. We're almost 4 miles into the downhill section. Stab brakes..... oh shit. OH SHIT! The brakes are soft. I can feel they are starting to fade. We have to pull over. We have to pull over now. Scanning the side of the road I found a spot that was good enough. I heave the brake pedal to the floor and swing into the gravel shoulder hoping it's hard packed enough to hold the weight. It doesn't matter. We don't have a choice. Roo slowly comes to a halt. I set the parking brake. OH SHIT. It won't hold. The RV is slowing moving forward. The wheel gets cranked to the right just enough to face uphill in the ditch. That made the RV stop moving and I make Katie hold the brake pedal as hard as she can.
I fling the door open and run outside. The brakes are smoking at all four corners. Not good. This is how RV's start on fire. Reaching inside the door I grab the fire extinguisher and run to each corner. No flames yet. I bolt into the ditch and pick up the biggest rocks I can to start chocking the wheels. After that it's back into the RV. I kick Katie out and take the parking brake off. Why off? Because the amount of heat will kill the brake pads if it stays engaged. We still have 3 miles to go. Roo doesn't move. Oh thank you baby Jesus.
We wait out the faded brakes for a half hour until they are cool enough the parking brake can go back on. Katie opts to stay behind and I climb into Shirley to scope out the rest of the road. We still have 3 miles of downhill to go and I want to see what's coming up. Luckily it turned out to be only 1 more mile of twists and turns, then 2 miles of 5% straightness. I get back and we head out. The only thing on my mind.... don't smoke the brakes and flip the RV at 70 mph off a cliff.
With fingers crossed we drop to the bottom of the hill without any more excitement. That was, without a doubt, the scariest thing that has ever happened to me while driving.
Time to keep moving. Luckily for us, life goes on. The town of Ballarat is only 30 miles down the road. A cool old ghost town with a couple people running the joint. That's plenty of time to let the brakes finish cooling off and to compose my frazzled nerves. This was on my list of things to see because of my addiction to TOP GEAR. This place was in one of their shows.
With Ballarat behind us we head for Ridgecrest. Wal-Mart fills the RV back up with supplies and we head off to our next parking destination. Spangler Hills OHV ground is 57,000 acres of public land. Here you can camp for 14 days at a time. Sounds like a good place to call home.
The day had come to hit the open road. A couple of hours to the east was an RV park that would be our last stop in the valley. Temps were already on the climb, and there was one more big hill to crest in order to get out. We hatched plan to get to the base of the summit today, and tackle the hill with cold temps the next morning. It's supposed to be 100 degrees out today and we could use some AC. It's either run the generator or go plug in. We drive two hours to our new destination and don't see much that's new. Then I spot the camouflage.
Something I never expected to see on this trip was manufacturer testing. The car above is a new model not yet released to the public. It's wearing heavy camouflage to hide body lines, styling, and any other trait that gives away some details to the competitors. With the excitement aside, we park across the street and hook up for some sweet AC. With the RV set to cool we've got time to do some exploring. Across the road and up 2.4 miles of washboard gravel road lays the mosaic canyon. Pack your Camelbacks, we're going for a walk.
The canyon has been carved out by thousands of years of floods and exposes some really cool looking stuff. Some of the walls are solid white marble.
Another half mile further and we can see why the canyon got it's name. A few thousand years ago a land slide piled hundreds of feet of rock on top of the marble. With enough time all the gaps between those rocks turned to rock itself.
So there you have it. A picture of more rock. Just what you were looking for. Here, look at me.
You see that? I'm surrounded by rock. Let's take a look at Katie.
I'll be damned. She's surrounded by rock too.
Death Valley. Rock. Dirt. Repeat.
Three days in the valley of death. Still finding cool stuff to do. It's 8 am and the temperature is only 70. Time to pack up the dog and drive to the top of a 5,000 ft lookout over the valley. It's a nice view overlooking the basin. This would be end of outdoor exploring for the day. I've got a date with Shirley and she'll be pissed if I miss it.
Shirley's headliner is in sad shape. The fabric has let go of it's foam backing and now drapes across the entire width of the inside. My head rubs against it and it flaps with the windows down. It looks like crap. I know she's old, but I have always had a thing for taking good care of my vehicles. So even this old girl gets the star treatment when it comes to maintenance. That means it's out with the tool bag and trim pieces start coming off. After a couple of hours it's finally time to remove the headliner backer board.
All of the old foam needs to come off for the new glue to work. Best way I found was to use a stiff bristle brush and rub the crap out of it. It took about half of a 21 Pilots album to get it clean.
With the board cleaned up it was time for fabric. Turns out JoAnn fabrics has this stuff in stock. Not the most likely place I'd look. After searching through the aisles we decide to use felt instead of headliner fabric. Why? Because we are cheap. This stuff was on sale and we bought the piece we needed for $18. Add to that the the $21 bottle of headliner glue from O'reilly's and we are going to wrap up this project for $40.
While the glue dries it's time to take care of one more thing on the maintenance list. The stereo. It's finally time to finish up installing the new rear speakers, and running new 16 gauge wire all the way back to the amp. We've been on the road for almost 4 months and we finally have a nice stereo. About dam time.
Alrighty. Time to trim off all the excess and stab some holes through the fabric for some trim pieces.
Time to re-install. Drumroll please....
Not bad for a days work. Not bad at all. Glad I finished it up in a day because that night it started to rain. In death valley. What a weird ass place.
A day exploring Death Valley wasn't even close to what either of us had in mind. The canyons are rich with color. The mountains in the background are stunning. The heat wasn't really that bad. Our first stop of the day was a few scenic overlooks on our way to the visitor center.
The visitor center is small but has some good info. It's located in Furnace Creek which just so happens to be a legit town. The native american tribe has lived here for 1,000 years and they continue to survive. The sheer thought of that is nuts. It's Death Valley. Things die here. That's the predispostion we had driving towards the town, but what we didn't expect was a green oasis of trees.
Just off to the East side of town were the remains of an old Borax mine camp. For those of you not familiar with Borax I'll give you a quick turorial. It's used in a bunch of stuff; cosmetics, laundry soap, ph buffer solutions, household cleaners, fire retardant, forging steel and in some countries as a food additive (not here).
These guys back in the day did some crazy stuff. Lacking full face respirators they dumped mined borax into a boiling water tank. Then the water was cooled and the pure borax stuck to metal rods, kind of like a popsicle on a stick. Some unlucky bastard would then scrape the borax concentrate off the sticks and into burlap sacks for transport. All the while it's 120 degrees outside with no shade. No thank you. Time to move on to something a bit happier.
Bad water basin. Located 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in the lower 48. The bottom of an old lake bed spreads out for miles.
After a quick jaunt it was back into Shirley and up the road to do some more hiking. A 1/2 mile climb up to the natural bridge showed us the power of the weather. Here water has hollowed out this hole and made some cool looking waterfall rocks in the canyon. Whoa... wait a minute. Water? Here? Yeah. Every spring this place receives a torrential flood from snow melt and goes through it's super-bloom. There are signs everywhere in the park that advise visitors to be on the lookout for flash flooding. Some back roads are shut down and one of the tourist spots is closed for the next two years. I know, that's nuts.
The hike was hot and exhausting. We decide the rest of the afternoon would be spent driving and sightseeing. A quick turn onto the "Artists Palette" road showed us some more cool looking shit.
With the day of sightseeing behind us it was time to head back to base camp. I had promised Katie we would get out and meet our closest neighbor before our time at the pads was up. Boy am I glad we did.
This is Bill. Bill came out of his RV waving his arm so hard I though he was going to break it. He was thrilled to talk to us and immediately asked us where we were from, and where we were going. Less than a minute into the conversation he crouched down into the dirt and started to draw us a map of the area. Not knowing what to do, I crouched down next to him and let him talk. Katie and Eli look bewildered. They both finally sat down in the dirt. One big happy RV living dirt sitting family. Nice. We spent the next half hour with Bill crouched to the earth talking about what we could see and where we should go.
You see, Bill is from Seattle. He hated the rain so much that he tucked away $3,000 bucks in VA checks and bought that sweet ride behind him. That was a couple of years ago. Now he spends every winter down here in Death Valley waiting out the cold. Bill was a good guy. He pointed out to us where he collected all the trash from in the area and burned it in one huge black smoke fire. Then he took a sledgehammer and beat down all the rebar that was sticking out of the concrete so RV's could park without flat tires. The ones that he couldn't he had put pop cans on top of so they were visible. Think of him as the unofficial curator of the pads. Hope he's still there when we return years from now.
Vegas continues to suck down our money. Two days at the RV park has set us back another $64. It’s time to do what we do best. Hit the road without a plan and hope for the best. Another glance at the map this morning and I call an audible to our travel route. Heading north looks like less of an elevation change than going back south. Either way the end destination is the same. This will also give us a chance to see a little bit more of Nevada. So it’s decided. We stop for fuel and propane before traveling off into the unknown. Death Valley will most likely be sparse of resources.
We pass by the Creech Air Force Base on highway 95 northbound. Katie is able to snap a couple of pictures as we roll past. There's drones flying overhead keeping an eye on things. The main focus of Creech is to provide security to the nuclear testing facility out here in the mountains. Once by this it’s wide open spaces for the next hour. Nevada’s barren land is a sight to be seen. Huge skies constrained by mountain peaks on both sides provide a fresh perspective of desert. There’s nobody out here. We pass through Amargosa Valley and drop south to Death Valley. Along the way we spot a casino/RV park at the Nevada border. It’s always worth checking out our options on the road.
This place is $25 a night for electric and water. It even has a petting zoo. With our tanks full and batteries charged we press on. There’s a boondocking spot just outside of Death Valley that we have in mind. What we didn’t plan on was not having a cell signal when we got here. There’s no address and the GPS couldn’t find it. So it’s with eyes wide open we look down the left side of the road for this RV oasis.
Known locally as the “Pads”, the ownership of this place remains in question. The American Borax company built this site for it’s workers back in the 70’s. It was a place for them to park there trailers while mining the hills. Turns out to be damn near perfect for someone looking to hang out in the RV for a couple of days. We find a spot and settle in. This large level lot makes it easy to park and gives us a nice concrete patio for the next few days. The only thing we are lacking is a cell signal. That means this blog will be a little late to the masses. Such is life.
Where have we been? Hanging out in the desert of Death Valley. We haven't had a cell signal for three days. Today we splurged and booked an RV hookup spot next to a hotel. With that comes a very limited amount of data to use. This post is to let you guys know... we're not dead. I'll update as soon as I can.
Always be prepared. That’s the mantra I reminded myself of as I slept in until 9 am. Tonight we hit vegas and I don’t want to wander about tired and weary. As we pour through the sights in the morning it becomes quite clear that we will just be doing a lot of sight seeing. Neither one of us gamble, go to strip clubs, party at night clubs, or enjoying walking around completely trashed in a throng of people. With our walking shoes on and katie’ purse filled with water we head for downtown in the early afternoon.
Our first stop on the list is the Fremont Street Experience. Located on the northern edge of the strip this tourist hotspot is a great place to get out of the jeep and wander. The whole “street” is geared towards pedestrian traffic only. It’s still early and none of the neon signs are glowing. This chaneges the feel of the environment some, but none the less the vibe of vegas is shining through. Every corner you turn there is the slogan “#VEGASSTRONG” peppered across buildings and souvenier items. It’s hard to believe that only two weeks ago this town was rocked by one of the most deady massacres in US history. Yet here we are walking the street, and it appears to be business as usual.
It’s back into the Shirley after just over an hour and we’ve already racked up our first bill of the night. The parking garage was $6 for two hours. Our next stop on the list is free, and so should the remainder of night be. Cheap, poor, budget-concious, frugal…. pick your phrase. We have no income to replace our hard earned pennies on the road. This is Vegas on a budget.
The northern side of the strip is sparse and downright sketchy. Climbing back into Shirley we head towards free parking spot #2. Treasure Island casino has a parking garage and we plan on takinng full advantage of it. From here we’ll walk the streets for the rest of the evening.
Years from now when we are talking to someone about this trip Vegas will come up. We will undoubtebly get asked; “Any crazy stories?” Well my friends have I got one for you. Katie and I went through 2, yes 2 bottles of water each during the night. We teetered on the edge of dehydration for seven hours and walked 12 miles. The slot machines blinked at us around every corner and we almost put a dollar in. Oh Vegas you temptress, you conned us out of $21 for sandwiches, water, and parking. Talk about a night we’ll never forget.
It's that time. We've booked an RV park in Vegas for two days and we have to check in today. So it's goodbye to our desert home and hello to the unknowns that lay ahead. Everything gets packed up and ready to move by 1030. Shirley is all hooked up and ready to take a break from the desert beating. That means Roo has to pick up the slack and drag the extra weight across southwestern California and over the Nevada state line. Unbeknownst to me was that fact that we were going from around 900' all the way up to 4,200'. The ominous road signs said to turn off the A/C to keep from overheating and for trucks to pull over and use a lower gear. The climb was a steady 6% for the next 10 miles. As the miles piled up our speed slowed. The elevation plays havoc on Roo's ability to stay cool. At 3,000' she was downshifted into 3rd gear and held a steady 37 mph for the rest of the climb. After the summit we ran into the Ivanpah Solar Power plant.
It turns out to not be your typical solar plant. There are 4,000 acres of mirrors that are all pointed towards 3 central towers. Those glowing sticks you see are receiving the deflected sunlight and creating super-heated steam. Steam drives a generator and VOILA! Kinda solar power. This plant is currently producing 492 Megawatts of energy which is roughly half of what it was designed for. Somebody made a calculation error and probably feels pretty stupid about it. Regardless it still received a few awards for it's innovation and green concepts.
Stacked painted rocks are just down the road. Why? No clue. It's supposed to be an art project. They are just painted rocks. I'm sorry, but not that exciting.
Las Vegas is on the horizon and we are glad to see it. Having hook-ups for the RV is a relief after being on the road for 6 days. You really learn to appreciate having unlimited water and the ability to do laundry. We booked the Las Vegas Rv Resort for the next two days. This parking lot on the East side of Vegas is a steal for visiting the area. Our back in site was only $29 a night for full hookups. Sure this section of the park is just a parking lot but it's all we need. Security checks us in and escorts us to our site. This is a nice feature to have when you don't the know the park layout.
After getting settled in I go about getting Shirley ready for her day on the strip. We'll most likely end up in a parking garage and she won't fit with the kayak rack. I pulled the bars off and even treated her to a $3 car wash when we filled up with gas. Lucky Girl. We're ready for tomorrow, when we will hit the streets of Vegas for the first time.
An alarm goes off at 0645. The mojave desert heats up quick during the day. Off to the southeast lay the Kelso sand dunes within the Mojave National Preserve. We need to make the 38 mile journey before the heat of the day sets in and paralyzes the land. A quick browse of the web shows us that it's dog friendly. Eli sees us getting our backpacks and shoes. He already knows what's up. Time to go see what all the fuss is about.
The morning haze covered the mountains in the distance off to the East. It's a good thing the government decided to call this place a National Preserve in 1994. Through those efforts 695,000 acres have been set aside to save this land to show future generations what is here. A few towns still exist and power lines dot the landscape in the distance. Straight through Kelso Junction and another 8 miles down the road to the trail head of the dunes.
The trail leads off the road about a 1/2 mile to the beginning of the dunes. We're already around 2,400 ft in elevation. They stand about 650 ft off the floor of the surrounding terrain. In the beginning progress isn't too bad. It's not hot out yet and the dog is in good spirits. Just a couple of seconds into the clip you'll see a lizard streak by. Eli catches a glimpse and follows him across the sand.
As we close in to the base of the larger dune our pace slows to a crawl. Two steps forward and one step back is all we can manage in the loose landscape. The heat is starting to take it's toll on us and especially Eli. He's already gone through more water than he would typically drink all day on a hike. Katie makes the call to sit down with the old boy and hold him back from going further. From here on out I travel alone to the summit. Do I have to go? Damn straight. We are here. When people talk about Mojave I have to be able to say that I climbed to the top of the dunes. Wish me luck.
Halfway up I have to sit down. The face of this is so steep I'm crawling on my hands and knees in order to make it. Every step makes my shoes sink down far enough to cover my ankles. I think I'm gonna throw up. Breath.... breath.... relax. A minute goes by and it's another 50 ft up. Then stop, rest, repeat. After 10 minutes I finally hit the summit and lay down on my back. What a stupid idea. It's just sand. Might as well take some pictures in case I vapor lock and tumble down the slope.
Totally worth it. I head back down the hill and listen to the sand sing. The unique enironment around us makes the sand reverberate with noise. Every step brings a distinct sound as the sand grains rub against each other. It sounds like a fart. Sand farts.
I pick up speed down the hill and begin laughly manically to myself. Sand farts. That's hilarious. Once at the bottom Katie wants to take a crack at it. Eli and I remain behind as she begins the summit to the top. Clocking in at 50lbs less than me allows her to pick a different line and not heave out the effort I had too. Her ascent looks easy in comparison to what I went through. Good for her, but it pisses me off a little.
Three hours later we finally get back to Shirley. With the A/C on full blast we head back home for lunch. The rest of the day is for us to just sit back and relax. As the time ticks by I begin to throw today's post together and then run into another ADD moment. Cross checking the web for facts I discover that there is an abandoned cinder mine 13 miles away. There were no signs on the road and very little information available for it. Katie senses my excitement. She grabs her shoes and the dog, "Let's go". You don't have to tell me twice.
As we turn off the pavement the GPS shows another 7 miles to go. The ruts get deep and Shirley is dragging her rear diff in spots. The sand changes to lava rock, then cinder as we near the mine. Sharp jagged protrusions dot the two lane path for the last mile. It's a slow 5 mph crawl in order to not puncture a tire, or worse yet our gas tank. A rattle appears out of nowhere. Great. That's a new noise we haven't heard. I park our junk and take a look. Turns out we busted the exhaust free from it's hanger. Guess we'll fix that when we get back to society.
Operations began back in 1948. The mine ceased to exist in 1990 when it wasn't profitable anymore. Those remnants of the past stood the test of time. A piece of history reflected in these photographs. Now Judging by the equipment age I'd suspect that stencil of "Welcome home troops" on the scale house and the bullzdozer to be from Vietnam. However I can't find anything to support this, and it may have reflected our soldiers return from Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf War.
With our tour of the abandoned mine complete it was time to return home. All of the while in the back of my head I worried about a breakdown. Loneliness plays tricks on the mind. A breakdown out here has the potential to become a real situation to worry about. Ironically it wasn't us that needed help. We met Vernon and his son Mason on our way back out. He had decided to drive his rear wheel drive BMW down the road. Big mistake.
Vernon tried to be a nice guy and pulled off the road for two jeeps that were behind him. That in turn had left him stranded and he was happy to see us. Unfortunately I didn't have a tow strap so we continued to dig. He jacked the car up and put some rocks under the tires while I pulled loose gravel from underneath the chassis.
Just as we were preparing to give it a shot two more SUV's showed up. They turned out to be the guys who passed him in the first place. With a mighty shove and some right foot from Vernon he was free. Ironically the other two SUV's were the exact same make and model as Shirley. So there we sat on the road cracking jokes about the whole thing. Three jeep XJ's and one BMW. One of them doesn't belong.
Our intention was to set up a base camp and chill out for a few days. I'm plucking away at the keys for the blog this morning and get distracted by the NPS website for Mojave. Hey it happens to everyone. Had one of those "oooooo something shiny" moments and forgot what I was supposed to be doing. A little ADD is good sometimes. Without it we wouldn't be making a the plan for the day. We've got a Jeep... and there is a lava tube down a 3 mile sand road. Katie throws together some gross sandwich that consists of strawberries, sour cream, and brown sugar. Let's hit it.
As the days tumble by I have really began to form a bond with Shirley. She's old and squeaky. The suspension makes a terrible racket over bumps, and steering might as well be attached to a rudder on a sailboat. Put those things aside and she has taken us everywhere we want to go. There's something marvelous about a simple and reliable machine. With the kayaks left behind and the A/C on we regularly average 17 mpg. That is a pretty decent figure for highway, city and bombing through the desert in 4wd at 30 mph. She's got no issue with climbing hills at nearly 30 degrees and clearing rocks 8 inches tall on a regular basis. No complaints.
The first landmark guiding us down the unmarked dirt road is the horse corral. Abandoned remnants of days gone by. Miners used these stables 100 years ago to park their horses in between prospecting and traveling. It's as reminder of just how lucky we are to be living with modern technology.
Driving off to the left at the fork, the old girl delivers once more and drops us off at the parking lot for a lava tube. A quick whistle for the dog and he bounds out of the jeep for another adventure. Eli never gets tired of smelling new things, and then instantly peeing on the. It's as if you can hear his thoughts "Yeah... this is mine now". We precariously help the dog down the steep steel stairs and descend into the lava tube.
The expert scientists of the area have put an age on the lava flow to be somewhere between 10,000-7 million years old. Wow. Really narrowed that down.
Nature culminates all its elements together to display beams of light passing into the underground.
Our trip to the lava tubes is short lived. This rocky land is covered in sharp lava stones. Not good for dog feet. We slowly tread our way back 1/3 of a mile to Shirley and head down the road again. Another detour is taken and we veer off onto Indian Springs Trail Road. The twisting ribbon of sand is home to the Rainy Day Mine Camp. At the end of the road it gets rough. Too rough. We have to know when to call it quits. Sure Shirley should be able to make the climb, but we are managers of risk. No other trucks are here to bail us out if something were to break. The convoy of one turns around and heads back to home. On the way out we stop for a quick photo-op of an old lava flow.
Off in the distance you'll see Katie perched high atop the rocky outcrop. We don't always exercise sound judgement on the road. Think about it. We are 3 miles from a paved road and another 15 from the nearest hospital. No health insurance, no friends, no common sense. That's how we roll.
Bumbling back home we pass a grove of Joshua Trees. These are some wild looking life forms. It's amazing anything can even grow out here. We're feeling the effects of the 1% humidity and heat. Our bodies are shriveling up and we have been pounding water bottles like they're free beer at a Saturday night party. Regardless these relentless desert beings find a way to thrive.
The rest of the afternoon passes by with a few little chores and trivial things that need to get done. When all is said and done we take a breather and light a fire under the falling sun.
Darkness sets in quick around here. By 1900 it's pitch black out and the sky illuminates with a miriad of stars. Unfortunately our phones can't capture the image of what we see. Thousands of little dots litter the horizon. The big dipper is easy to find with it's little dipper brother just off it's northern tip. Some old native american tribal music is queued up on Pandora and we drift off in our thoughts gazing at the stars.
World's tallest thermometer is not something one anticipates to just run into. Yet, there it is. Standing tall in Baker CA is a 134 ft tall thermometer to remind you just how damn hot it can get in death valley. The height of it represents the hottest day ever recorded here, 134 degrees on July 10th, 1913. We had packed up and left our makeshift home in Stoddard Wells in search of new territory. Watching race teams show up to play is cool, but the dust was atrocious and it's time for a change of scenery. Before departing Barstow we dumped the tanks and picked up some fresh fruits and vegetables. It was during our hour drive to the big ass thermometer Katie and I discussed where we would go next. We've got 14 more days to kill before we meet up with Uncle Bill in LA.
Billboard after billboard lines the highway advertising for free parking in Vegas. Vegas? Yeah... we should go see Vegas. A quick search shows us a few places that are available for anywhere between $25-$45 a night. That's a reasonable price for full hookups. Honestly we were expecting it to be much higher. However it's close to the end of the week and the weekend traffic would be upon us. A plan is hatched to hang out in the Mojave desert over the weekend. We'll drive into Vegas on Monday and hang out for a couple of days. Now if we can just find a parking spot....
A quick search on the NPS (National Park Service) webpage shows that dispersed camping is allowed anywhere in the park. Roadside parking is allowed anywhere it has already been established. Another quick check of www.freecampsites.net showed us a place 12 miles into the park. It's loose stones on top of hard packed sand. That'll hold big girl up enough to not get stuck.
This place is wild. I've never seen anything like it.
With home set up we can now fill the next two days with something to do. Who knows what that'll be.
Awoken by the thunder of an off road giant. This isn't going to get old. Speed. Power. Speed and power solve many things. Out across the land you can see a trailer. That's King Racing shocks factory support. These guys come out to help race teams dial in there junk before they start an event.
Is that and XJ cherokee I see? Sure is. That's what Shirley has the potential to be.
I make some coffee and eat breakfast. I keep looking out the window at these guys and think about how much I'd like to go check out there rig. A few more trucks with trailers show up. Maybe later. Shirley needs to get the stereo install complete so we can finally have some tunes on the road. Going about my business I can't help but look over. I'm hesitating to go introduce myself to these strangers. The whole thing seems, I don't know, weird. These guys are out here with their factory rep taking care of business. Who am I to walk over and bother them. Screw it. I walk over and introduce myself to two guys hanging on to the front of the truck. Glad I did. Brian and Joey were just some regular dudes who love cars just like me.
These guys let me crawl all over their ride and take pictures for the blog. It's a Jeep Cherokee, just like Shirley. It's running a built 4.7L stroker motor with an AW4 trans, and the stock NP231 transfer case. A full set of Currie axles and ARB lockers compliment the stock style suspension, albeit lifted and toughened up quite a bit. It's a little rough, gutted, and caged. Sweet race truck.
The whole point of this journey was to get out and explore. There's something about living in your comfort zone that defines us as a people. That's something that I recognize and wanted to break on this trip. Any other day I would have watched these guys from afar and not talked to them. It can be related to an almost childish fear of not being accepted. Being rejected for not being "the cool kid" is a real thing that lingers on into adult lives for a lot of people. Think about it. Do you still retain 90% of the views you had on human interactions you had as a child? Probably. Break status quo. Meet cool people. If they treat you like crap... screw 'em.
We spend the next 15 minutes shooting the shit and they let me leave with a parting give. A signed "Hero" card and some stickers to remember them by. Why was I ever hesitant?
Time to get back to business. This stereo isn't going to install itself. A good 4 hours passes as I wire this thing together. Just because Shirley is an old piece of junk doesn't mean I should do shoddy work. Everything is soldered and shrink tubed during the install.
Victory! The back speakers will get installed later. I've got another project lined up. For the time being... let's celebrate with donuts in the desert.
What a day. Living outside my comfort zone for a few fleeting minutes. Then getting right back into it with wrenching on the Jeep. I don't think I'll forget this day of our adventure. Brian and Joey made sure of that.
First things first. Time to find a our new parking spot for the day. After scoping out the lay of the land we moved about a 1/2 mile in from the road. There's a toilet and fire rings in this area. That's good enough for us. Within this massive 53,000 acres you can camp anywhere you want, so long as you stay off the race track. Race track? WHAT!!!????? I love the sound of horsepower in the morning.
A team with it's trophy truck and two more dune buggies showed up mid-day for some practice. These guys are running the course at 75 mph and getting everything dialed in for their next event. Sitting so close has its disadvantages though. Each pass they make by sends a wave of dust towards us. We're using old Roo to block the wave so we can enjoy some outside time.
The sun is bearing down on the arid land and it's a little bit dry outside. Hanging underneath the motorhome is a remote thermometer and it's telling me that the humidity outside is 1%. Katie heads inside to find purpose for the 2 lbs of limes she bought the other day.
I'm greeted with fresh squeezed lime-ade complete with garnish. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon. After finishing up a glass we pack up Shirley and head out into the desert. We're searching for abandoned mine shafts that litter the landscape.
I pilot Shirley only a couple of miles from base camp. There's no one out here if we breakdown, and it's a long walk back to the RV in the blistering heat. No mine shafts today. We'll head back to the RV and look for some other things that need to be done.
It's not easy to find places on the road to work on stuff. People tend to frown upon tools and parts laying around the Jeep in RV parks. Three months on the road without a working stereo in Shirley is getting old. This week I'm finishing the install before we leave, no matter what. She's getting a cheapie head unit from Wal-mart, some $20 BOSS speakers front and back, all hooked to a 1,000 watt amp for good measure. Darkness dropped before I could finish the first door. Guess I'll have something to do tomorrow.
We are on our way out to the desert but there is something I wanted to see. Here stands the largest box of raisins in the world. Sun-Maid Raisins in Kingsburg CA is a huge building with a small gift store. Unfortunately there's not much to look at inside.
All we did was snag a couple of postcards and move on down the road. Eastward bound to the inland empire. This section of California is mostly desert. Our target for the day is Barstow. Apparently there is an OHV (off highway vehicle) park that allows free camping for 14 days.
The temperature is on it's way up and Roo is starting to sweat. We pull over as a precaution and relieve her of pulling a 4,000 lb jeep anchor. Katie pulls in behind me as we hit the hills. We've got to go from 600' to 4,034 up a constant 7% grade. It's 87 out and there's a 25mph headwind. The little cummins that could will be earning it's keep today.
Roo pulls most of the grade between third and fourth gear to keep from overheating. We get to the other side of the mountain and drop back down to 3,000 ft. The temperature has declined 15 degrees once we are on the other side. Shirley gets re-hitched and we get on our way.
Darkness sets in quickly across the arid land. By 1900 it's almost black out. We still haven't made it to our final stop and now we have to do it in the dark. Nothing like driving the rig into an OHV park we've never seen. Hope we don't get stuck.
We find a spot close to the entrance with little drama. This will do for the night. Tomorrow we will seek out a better home.
This was what we woke up to in the morning. Just another view of dumpy RV's and dog's tied to chains. It's sad really. I'm a pet guy and hate to see these animals being neglected. However the more we open our eyes and look around the surrounding area, this is normal. We've seen stray dogs and chained up ones now for the last week or so while driving through southern California.
With sad dog face out of the way it was time to decide how to spend the day. Down the road was a flea market that is supposed to be open on Sundays. Guess we'll go check that out.
It was an absolute madhouse. Thousands of people and 100's of vendors filled the lot with goods for sale. A chaotic sprawl of housewares, farmers market, car parts, clothing, and food vendors. The whole ambiance was almost overwhelming. As we walked through the throng of a crowd we began to take notice. Everyone here, and I mean everyone, is Hispanic. Now don't jump to conclusions just because I used a word to describe people. I dont' know the proper term. They might be Hispanic, American, Mexican, Mexican-American, Californians... whatever. People are people and I don't care about where they come from or what their lineage is. That aside it's an odd feeling walking around being the minority. Katie and I muttered this to each other as we looked around and then spent the next 2 hours on the lookout for white folks, just out of curiosity. None. Zero. Know what? It was the coolest flea market I've ever been too.
Hunger set in around noon and the taco truck looked too good to pass up. I ordered us some grub and the guy behind the counter gave me that "you're white, why are you here" look. He was totally cool about it though. He spoke to everyone else in Spanish except to me. We sat down on the picnic tables with the locals and started to chow down. Another amazing meal of street tacos garnished with lemon. I went a little on the bold side and dried some dark red salsa. My eyes started to water. Not good. That poop is gonna burn tomorrow.
We meandered through the crowd for another hour or so and stopped to buy some fruits and vegetables on the way out. Katie started asking questions to the girl behind the stand and it was obvious we were out of our element. She flashed us a smile and started explaining things like we had and IQ of 80. Thank goodness, because we were totally lost. With $4 worth of food it was time to head home. Want to know what $4 buys you at the Salinas Flea Market? Glad you asked
Back from a quick paddle and Katie started dinner. I heard a loud "BANG" when she tried to close the drawer with the pans in it. Awesome. Time to fix stuff.
Pardon the crap picture, but that's all I got. Basically the tracking came half undone and decided to turn itself into an accordion. Nothing 30 minutes and a couple of beers can't fix. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
The big 1-0-0. One hundreds days of travel and we celebrate the event in the Sierra Nevada mountains. These vast behemoths are take your breath away beautiful. This mountain range is home to MT Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. We started out the day with a trip to the King's Canyon visitor center and made a plan from there. The General Grant tree was just down the road and worth a stop. In these parks lie the giant sequoias, the largest living organisms on earth. General Grant was discovered in 1862. He's 267 ft tall and 40.3 ft at the base.
Once again the pictures don't fully capture the essence of the woods. Hundreds of enormous sequoias surround the area around General Grant.
In the spirit of being thorough I attempted to show you at ground level what these things are like. A short trail leads visitors to a downed sequoia that's been hollowed out by hundreds of years of weather and fire.
Time to roll. There's tons fo stuff to see here and we'd like to cram it into one day. Next on the list is the Chicago stump. Shirley rumbles up the road and hits 6,000 ft in eleveation. The road turns to gravel and the stump is 3 miles deep into the woods.
Down the road we see the trailhead off to the right. Is that it? The road keeps going. We should see where it goes.
The studious reader will see the "don't drive your damn car here" sign. Sweet. I love this stuff. The road gets steep and we are trundling through at about 7 mph. There's a tree laying across the road about 6 inches around with a lot branches sticking out. No problem. I'll just drive through it. Another 30 minutes clicks by until we find our way back out. Nothing here but burnt stumps and woods. Back to the Chicago stump we go.
A stump... that's right. This big ass stump was estimated to be around 3,200 years old when they cut it down. Two men worked on it for 9 days before the mighty tree fell.
Back to the pavement and we went down to see General Sherman. This tree is the one to see. The parking lot is packed and people are everywhere. What's the big deal? Sherman currently holds the title as the largest living tree in the world by volume. If man decided to log Sherman it would take roughly 30 train cars just to move the wood from the trunk. This isn't counting the branches. At 130 ft up from the base is a branch that's 7 ft in diameter and 140 ft long.
The hike down to him wasn't too bad. However it's worth pointing out we are at 7,000 ft in elevation. I've found something out about myself on this trip. My body doesn't like elevation. Over 8,000 ft and I start to get a headache. Shirley doesn't care much for it either. She grumbles back to life and it's down the road to drive through a tree. Not as exciting as we thought it'd be, but still cool.
See the missing center cap on the wheel? It's been bothering the crap out of me since it happened. I know this is an old jeep and it gets beat up. That's fine, but this is just unacceptable. I even know where it's at... kinda. I noticed it was missing after we spent that day bombing up a 4wd only road in Whiskeytown a couple weeks back. *Sigh*
No more time to be in despair. We're finally heading back home to call it a day. Eli is waiting for us and we're both just ready to sit on the couch. No regrets though, one hell of a way to spend day 100.
What a crap night of sleep. Trucks, cars, security and everything you can imagine made noise. The electrical box outside hummed all night and was only broken up by the dogs barking across the street. We had spent hours the night prior looking for place to call home for a few days. It was way too tough to find something in the night. Coffee. I need coffee. The re-search for rest began as I scrolled through the list on google maps in order to find our new home. A few phone calls lead us to Lindy's Landing. A campground on the banks of the King river. At $25 a night for full hook-ups this place is a steal. Keep in mind though... most deals like this come with drawbacks.
This place is a party campground. Crap RV's litter the lot with useless stuff packed underneath them. The kids are running around screaming and dogs are tied to chains underneath RV's.
Look past those things and this place is still dirt cheap. We get in and settled by 1100. That's real early which means we have the rest of the day to kick back and chill out. Shirley gets fired up and it's time to head into Fresno CA. My home-girl Gloria is from this town and that's really the only reason I've got to go see it. Besides, Roo needs some parts for the busted air horn and I've had my eye on a chromebook for writing this here blog.
Fresno appears to be a busy city. Cracking just over a half million people this metropolis has everything the people need. The truck center doesn't have the part in stock for the horn, but the rest of the day proves to be fruitful.
I've been putting the blog together on an HP laptop that has windows 10. I hate it. Absolutely hate using that software. I decided to drop $200 on a Samsung Chromebook which proves to be just what I wanted. Simple, easy to use, and easy to carry. We'll spend the rest of the day just catching up on cleaning and chores.