Saturday, January 31, 2009

Over the River and Through the Blizzard

A few of you may be wondering why we decided to drive through this.....

Why did we drive over 2,000 miles in January... in bad weather? Driving through ditches and risking it all eating Super Bean Burritos from Taco John's in Ogallala, NE? Well, let me give you an idea about what spurred us on. Take a gander at this...

See those two chics? That is my Mom and my Gram. Please note the double leopard print action. If you have ever wondered where I get "it" from.... I think this picture may begin to answer that question.

It had been almost a year and a half since we had been here to see my family. We decided to surprise my Gram. We did not tell her we were coming. Last night my Mom and I drove over to her apartment so I could jump out all "TAH DAHHHH!" As we were rounding the corner of the hall where her apartment is we ran headlong into her coming the other way down the hall toward us. So she ended up surprising us just as much as we were trying to get her. It was a goofy moment of hit and run happiness. When my Gram is excited and/or happy she tends to beat on you with balled up fists. So I got a pretty good ass whipping out in the hallway before we headed back to her room. I think this photo captures our emotional states on seeing each other again pretty well...

Let me just tell you that Alberta Biehl is one heck of a hot ticket. I am looking forward to stirring up some trouble with her over the next few weeks while we are here.

We are staying at my Mom's and she has been spoiling us with good eats since we arrived. After 6 days of gas station snacks and crappy fast food on the road it has been MUCH welcomed. We woke the first morning to parfait and fresh blueberry muffins. Tonight we had pizza with a made from scratch crust and piled high with veggies.

Rudy was beyond glad to be out of the truck and off the highway. We have been having a bit of a struggle with him being a puss about the cold here. He does not want to go out walking. We get to the end of the driveway and he stops and starts holding his paws up as though they are injured and giving the sad puppy face. I bought him some "dog booties" to protect his feet from the ice and cold but he won't have any of it. He lets me put them on his feet and then he hops around like a panicky rabbit with no equilibrium. He will either have to toughen up quick or master the use of the humans' toilet. I will let you know which choice he makes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A HUGE Post about all SORTS of Stuff

We are not even half way across the distance we have to cover on our drive from California to Illinois. We have driven in rain, sleet, snow, fog, hail and wind. The road has been icy and the road has been long when you take the conditions into consideration. Of course all of this could have been avoided if we had just waited a few days before departing but I was ready to go so we went. We drove smack into a storm system working it's way west right over our heads. We spent the first night in Winnemucca, NV which of course is familiar from the Johnny Cash song "I've Been Everywhere." Although the road in Winnemucca was not so much dusty while we were there as it was slushy. From there we drove across Utah in all sorts of weird conditions. The sky was gorgeous as is the county in that state once we got past the worst of the snow in the Wasatch Mountains. The conditions on 80 were pretty crappy and lots of folks were in the ditch on the grades heading up the mountains.

Up near Park City where they hosted the Olympic Games a few years back the scenery was gorgeous.

We eventually drove out of the snow and I was thrilled to get to see The Bonneville Salt Flats. We just watched the film "The World's Fastest Indian" the other night (which is centered around the place) so it was uncanny timing to drive through the flats. Before seeing the movie I had never even heard of the place. This is an image from the rest stop and not the actual park area. I just love the patterns and atmosphere of this shot. The flats are on the other side of the highway and are actually under water right now. The movie is a gem by the way... rent it if you have never seen it.

Once we hit the area near Big Basin (a huge vast valley floor) the sky opened up and was amazing. The clouds made the surrounding mountains look tiny.

There are some really quaint looking ranches tucked into the valley along the edge of the mountains.

As we neared Salt Lake City the rain and sleet started in as well and really heavy fog. It made for some great shots. This is some sort of factory in the distance but it looks like a white castle through the camera lens, almost like something out of one of the Lord of the Rings flicks.

Here is a freight train running on watery tracks near The Great Salt Lake. The weather was getting pretty nasty by this point.

Lovely mountain reflections...

County Hwy scenes as seen from the interstate...

Fog encroaching on the mountainside...

While driving through Salt Lake City we saw some fellow Airstreamers who were really taking the bull by the horns driving in their motor coach in the sleet. I hope they are headed south!

Yesterday really ended with a bang. We were still driving after dark and had decided to pull off in Evanston, Wyoming for the night. We were about a mile from the exit for Evanston lodging when we took a nose dive off the highway down into the ditch. It came out of nowhere and was one of those surreal moments in an automobile when time slows up and you just have to sit there and wait for the "out of control" moment to be over. We slid off smooth as silk and then rumbled down the steep embankment into about 8 inches of snow in the ditch below. Upon coming to a stop I said "Well, here we are now with all our stuff down here." I pretty much figured we were screwed. We had gone a good 30 feet off the road and the bank was steep. We were already in 4 wheel drive and the truck would not budge. Shit. We called AAA and they said they would send someone out with a truck to get us out within 45 minutes. My biggest worry while sitting down there was that someone else would slide off the road the same way we did and crash into us. That would have been really ugly. A state trooper pulled off to check on us. We chatted with him for a few minutes which was an odd activity to suddenly be involved in. He left and then about a half an hour passed before a truck pulled off and a guy worked his way down the bank to us. Billy rolled down his window and the guy asked "What are you doing?" I found this to be a pretty humorous question considering the circumstances. We explained our position and he said. "You can drive out of here. You're not even in 4 wheel drive." "Huh? Wha?" was our response. He reached down and fiddled with the front wheels and then arose and said "Go. Drive. I will watch you from here." So yeah.... then we DROVE OUT OF THE DITCH. It was SO STUPID. We felt all at once wildly triumphant and stupendously stupid. Oddly enough the tow truck drove up right then and watched the whole thing take place and then followed us a ways down the highway flashing his lights at us. I took the flashing to mean "Thanks a lot you assholes for needlessly dragging me out of my warm house on a sub zero Saturday night."

In a nutshell... we apparently have no idea how to activate the 4 wheel drive on our truck. Anyway... now we do. We spent almost 45 minutes in the ditch for no reason at all other than our own lack of knowledge of our vehicle. So cool. Sooooo cool.

I still can't believe how amazing it felt to just drive outta there. It was totally ridiculous. We are now wondering if we could have just driven right out of the Monument Valley incident as well. I am willing to bet that we were not in 4 wheel drive that day either. As my friend Michelle said... we are getting really good at driving around the country pretending to get stuck.

We made it in to Evanston and that is where we still are right now today. We decided to hang tight for a day and let the storm move on ahead instead of driving right back into the heart of it today. I had to go downtown to mail some stuff earlier and took the opportunity to wander around the alleys shooting some of my favorite style of photos. I love the texture and color in old beat up buildings in small western towns like this. It was freezing cold but I grabbed a few cool shots. I will leave you on that note. We hit the road again tomorrow to make for somewhere on the far East side of Nebraska. I will report in again from our hotel there.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Takin' a Break. A Cold One.

And NO the break will not involve cracking open a crisp cool can of beer and laying back in a lawn chair to watch the sunset over the California hills. Our "cold one" will involve cracking into the world of sub zero wind chills and face freezing temperatures. We are not going to Siberia.... but close.... we are going to visit my hometown in Illinois. Since we have been enjoying the beautiful weather, beaches and scenery here in Cali for almost 6 months we thought what better way to shake it up than a road trip to Rockford in January and February?! Yee Haw!

We have not visited with my family for almost a year and a half so it is high time we make a pit stop. Even though the pit stop is over 2000 miles away. Lucky for us Hwy 80 is right outside our trailer door and it will take us about 1,950 of the necessary miles to get there. Now that is an easy route. I think we are going to head out this weekend (sans the trailer, it will stay here) and take about 4 days to drive across. As soon as we make it over the pass in Tahoe we kiss the warm weather goodbye! I love a good old school cross country peel out fully saturated with truck stop seediness, loud music on the highway and the novelty of staying in a hotel room. I can't wait to hit the road. Our route takes us through Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa. We have seen most all of it before but not in winter.

We will spend about a month in Illinois before heading back out here to pull the trailer back down to Carmel Valley and ready ourselves for the Spring and Summer seasons there. Even though the economy is lower than snake shit Billy is hoping to get a foothold in the Carmel art market for the future. Rudy has not yet had his fill of Dog City and I have not had my fill of knowing that I am living within miles of Clint Eastwood.

We did make it through our date at the Airstream repair shop and hopefully our leak is fixed. They caulked it up and tightened everything down. We also found out there was a recall on a part in our Dometic refrigerator and they replaced that. If you have a newer AS you should check to see if your fridge needs the fix too. It is an easy fix... only takes about 5 minutes for the tech to do it. We are going to deal with the bed platform ourselves. I did not have the patience or energy to battle out trying to get the thing replaced at the dealership. We are going to clean the whole area again and leave it set up with dehumidifiers while we are gone to totally dry it out. If the problem arises again we will have to replace the wood. And we do plan to get the mattress up and off the platform with either a box spring or some kind of foam insulation. So hopefully it will be all set.

I am off to begin the packing process. Let's see.... Eskimo Parka? Check. Ice Scraper? Check! Moon Boots? Dammit. Anyone have a pair they can loan me?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boiled Belly Bomb

What do you get when you bake a "cake" out of boiled clementine oranges, ground almonds and lots and lots of eggs? You get a belly ache that is unrivaled by any belly ache you have ever known before. Some of you may be thinking.... "Why yes... because what kind of an idiot would make such a cake? Surely such a nincompoop deserves a belly ache!! Who thought up this silly baked good anyway?"

People. I suffer. And therefore I can't elaborate much more than to say I thought it all seemed like a good idea. An adventure in the world of cooking! You know... I thought I would make something really different. So I made the boiled oranges cake. I got the recipe off one of my very favorite and trusted cooking blogs. In her photo it looked quite appealing! And I will say that it may just be my freakish digestive system at fault here and not the boiled cake's fault at all. Or maybe we are really not supposed to eat whole boiled and then baked oranges peel and all? Whatever. Just consider yourselves warned. This cake is dangerous to those who have low tolerance for rich, off beat food items. It may be days before I can stand up straight or before my face does not feature a pained grimace brought on by my belly ache. Billy seems to be fine (of course) but then he has guts of steel. He regularly eats rusty nails and spoiled milk for breakfast with no dramatic results.

What else? Hmmm. Not much. We are visiting with Billy's Dad, girlfriend and little sisters this weekend but most all of them are sporting a bad cold so I am hiding out in the trailer and not being very social. Tomorrow is our appointment at the Airstream dealership in Manteca so we shall see what that brings about.

I have a few photos from our day in Carmel this past week. We drove out to the coast to look at a site we may rent on private land for the trailer to nest on. It was a fabulously gorgeous day so we sat out on the beach for hours soaking up the sun and letting Rudy play with other dogs.

Here is yet another shot of Rudy's dazzling pearly whites. And disgusting sandy beard.

And my favorite action shot of the day playing leaping deer games with another bigger doggie dude.

Finally... a reflective moment. It's always so much better to thoughtfully gaze out over the ocean with an impossibly huge tennis ball crammed into your mouth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Killer Bees? NO! Fleas? MAYBE! Mold? ABSOLUTELY!!!!

So. It has been a long rough day. Let me start the story in the wee hours of the night saayyyy, 4 a.m. Some people may call that early morning for for me it is smack dab in the middle of the night. Anyway.... I woke up at around 4 a.m. and I was absolutely positive that a hive of killer bees was living in the wall of the Airstream right above my head. I could even HEAR them. I was awake.... and I could HEAR them. Or so I thought at that moment. In reality I heard nothing because there are no bees in the wall. I guess I dreamed it. Or maybe I am for real crazy.... but there are no bees. So I eventually went back to sleep. When I next woke it was 8 a.m. and Billy was already up which means that Rudy should have been let out of his crate and should have jumped up in the bed with me. He was nowhere to be seen. So I asked "Where is Rudy?" Well, Rudy was down on the floor writhing in agony nibbling at his haunches and scratching like mad. Fleas. I immediately assumed it was fleas. It had to be fleas right? So I jumped up and looked him over and sure enough he has little red bumps all over his belly and feet. Great.

I went to the ranch supply in Vacaville and grabbed flea shampoo and a new box of Frontline. I HATE putting that crap on my dog but sometimes you have to just give in and do it. When I got home we went to pull all the sheets off the bed because we were going to wash the living shit out of all our stuff to make sure if it IS fleas we get rid of the little bastards right quick. In the process of peeling the bed we discovered an even worse surprise. Mold. The wooden platform our mattress rests on was covered in mold. Fabulous. WTF? It was suddenly like a scene from one of those ebola movies where people in huge white hazmat suits were wandering in and out like space men. Or... I wished that those guys were here. In their absence WE were going to have to deal with this increasingly sucky mess ourselves. Yuck.

I spent the entire day wallowing in bleach and flea products. Today probably shaved a few years off my life. We have a clean dog who is no longer itching. We never did see a single flea on him or in the bath water so who knows.... maybe he got in to a nest of fire ants again or something and there never even were any fleas. But at any rate if any fleas try to get up in here now they will not pass GO and collect $500, they will go straight to broke ass flea heaven.

On to the issue of the mold. We freaked out and cleaned the entire area with undiluted bleach. I have no idea of this is actually the right course of action but it is what we did. I called an Airstream dealership about two hours from here and made an appointment for tomorrow to bring the trailer in and have the wooden platform and hopefully the mattress replaced. We will probably have to wait for the mattress to be shipped but I think they can probably replace the platform pretty easily. The whole mess is stemming from a leak we had in the wall a few weeks ago (during a rainstorm of course) which has since been fixed but apparently enough water got in to cause this kind of damage. And it is also stemming from the fact that three nights ago after reading another Airstreamers blog who was talking about a bunch of repair work they had to have done I went ahead and boasted OUT LOUD about how lucky we have been in not having too many problems with this thing. DING DING DING! We have a winner! One heavy dose of green fuzzyness comin' right at ya! Yeah.... me and my big mouth.

So, tomorrow we drive out mid state to this dealership, drop off the trailer then immediately leave to drive back out to Carmel where we have an appointment to look at a spot on private land where we could potentially live for awhile. We will stay in a hotel in Carmel tomorrow night then drive back up to see what progress has been made with fixing the bed platform. We literally have like three weeks left on our original factory warranty so everyone cross your fingers, toes and eyes for us that they go ahead and fix all this on warranty. It could get ugly. They may have to tear open the wall to see if any mold damage has been done on the interior. If that happens care packages of Valium, wine and cash would be greatly appreciated.

I will let ya know what happens.....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Best Latte of my Life

People... I have news for you. The best latte in the USA can be found at Toby's Coffee Bar in Point Reyes. I don't know what their secret is... if it is in the beans themselves or the technique or what but DAMMIT they make a fabulous latte. It could be that they use freshly roasted organic beans or that the milk is from a local organic farm or that they are magical elves from the land of eternal happiness. I could not wait to drive in to town this morning to get one. And if you ever find yourself in Point Reyes and want to get get one for yourself let me say this. You will wait in line. For a long time. There will come a moment (or several individual moments) when you will think to yourself "I can't wait in this line any longer. Why is this line taking so long?" And you will think about walking away. BUT DON'T!!! Stay and wait for your best latte ever. Stay and wait and watch the weird little woman dressed in an expensive but ugly, artsy, hand dyed, shaggy fiber jacket in line in front of you grouchily order an impossibly annoying item from the barista and wonder how you turn into a person like that...a person who stands there coughing and hacking without covering their mouth and then does not leave the barista a tip??? This is why the line takes a long time. Because there are lots of " I want a sugar free soy chai latte with the tiniest amount of foam and hand grated cinnamon and nutmeg, and while you are at it can you get me a half decaf, half regular americano?" type orders. Oh well. These are the moments when I thrill in being the next person in line who says "I'll take a large latte." Clean and simple. Have I talked (bitched) enough about this particular subject yet? Yes. Let's move on.

Yesterday we did our long walk on the Bolinas Ridge Trail which turned out to be not as long as we wanted it to be. We got a late start. By late I mean like one o'clock. So we only did a 6 mile round trip walk. I wanted to do something more like ten miles. It will have to wait for the next time we are here. We have had a few gorgeous days in a row hitting the mid 60's with full sun so it was a perfect day to be out walking. Here's a few pics from the trail... this whole portion of the BRT is through ranch land.

When we got back from the walk we went into town and ate at the Reyes Cafe which was really good food. We had a salad with the locally made Point Reyes Blue cheese and wood fired pizza that was awesome. We left stuffed. But not too stuffed to stop off at the grocery and grab some Three Twins Organic Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream to go with the homemade apple crisp we had waiting back in the trailer. We walked 6 miles right? What the Hell.

I am so in love with this tiny little town. I think I have mentioned that like 64 times. I grabbed a few random shots so you can get the feel of it.... the first shot is actually here at the campground, a cool old truck parked next to our site.

I also have to rave about the Bovine Bakery which is another place you have to try if ever in Point Reyes. I borrowed this image from Hanson Q's reviews page on

Armed with my perfect latte and a pain d'amande from the Bovine I was in foodie heaven.

We are leaving tomorrow morning. I am so looking forward to the next time we can make it out here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

News from the Silver Tube Dwellers

Sometimes I lay awake at night considering the fact that Billy, Rudy and I live inside of a smallish aluminum tube on wheels. This tube has a fridge, microwave, gas stovetop and oven, shower, sink, toilet etc. And then there is the fact that we have lots of stuff in here with us. Random stuff. We have a sock monkey, loads of yarn (for crocheting), books, magazines, a coffee maker, various other kitchen gadgetry, everything Billy needs to create oil paintings, dog toys, I have about 42 pairs of shoes, tons of clothing, etc., etc., etc. It's incredible. This tube is jammed full. And then we live in here too. We drag this thing all over the country. Again... amazing. It is weird how a space like this can become so comfortable. I mean obviously we have become intimately aquainted with every nook and cranny in here. But the weirdest thing which is hard to convey is that this space has become a sanctuary that is mobile. Even if it is parked in a noisy parking lot where we have pulled off the highway to rest and grab a bite to eat it is protection and sanctuary from the bizarro world outside. Thin aluminum walls is all it takes. Billy has suggested that the next step would be to see if we could find comfort and sanctuary living in a cardboard box. I am only game for that if the box is in Tahiti andcomes equippedwith a servant that brings me exotic food, umbrella drinks and reads me to sleep at night while birds of paradise fan me with their tail feathers. Until such a thing can be arranged I will stick with tube livin'.

I thought I would take a portrait today of what we are currently looking like to the world at large. Us with our tube on wheels. I find that we look oddly threatening. Like tiny circus clowns in a hyper realistic nightmare. Well, Billy does not look like a clown... but I most certainly do. I come by it naturally.

We decided to stay home today and rest. I have not been feeling my best for the past few days so it seemed a good idea. I have spent the day reading, working with photos and wasting enormous amounts of time creating my own radio stations on Pandora.

Here are a few more pics from the past few days out here at Point Reyes. We went for a drive yesterday as far north as the town of Tomales and walked the beach there. It was freezing cold and windy but beautiful. We also walked the beach out on Point Reyes and caught a sunset from up on one of the hilltops as we were on our way out of the park.

Rudy and I had a very serious discussion about life and death on the beach when we discovered the skeletal remains of a coyote. He cried a little in disbelief and I assured it him would eventually happen to us all. He said... "Fuck that." Rudy still has a lot of growing up to do.

He then immediately went back to chasing tennis balls and having vast amounts of fun.

Billy observed that my head is many times larger and more powerful than the moon. And so are my sunglasses and teeth.

And finally a couple of views of sunset from the ridge line...

We discovered an area of massive amounts of rolling hills and ranch land covered with thousands of sheep and lambs. It was like cuteoverload come to life before my very eyes. The lambs were doing what lambs do best which is to run, jump and cry in their bleaty little voices. They are the goofiest, sweetest little creatures I can imagine. Besides kittens. Anyway... here are some lambs. These pics were taken just past sundown so they are a bit dark...

If I had my tripod I could have taken a few more but it was getting too dark. And lambs have a very strict bedtime. I did not want to get anyone in trouble.

I am already in a panic that we are leaving this area on Sunday. I wish we could stay for a month or so. I really love this place.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dudes, I am so TIRED.

For real people... I don't know what is up this week but everything is killing me softly. I am so freaking tired. Maybe it is the fog. The fog outside not the fog in my brain. I am used to that particular fog.

Anyway.... I am gonna sling a bunch of pictures at you because I am too brain farty to do much more that that. Upon arrival here in Olema, CA we took off for the Bolinas Ridge Trail which is only about a mile from where we are camping. It is a wicked long trail and it's dog friendly. We did not make it too far because we got a late start so we plan to spend a whole day on the trail before the week is out. Here are a few choice shots from the walk... a few of them photoshopped up for effect.

The next day we drove down to San Rafael to see what that was all about. It turned out to be all about one very car sick dog. The road down to the city was like a tapeworm doing the electric boogaloo so Rudy was primed for some real serious puking. Which he did. We had to pull off to the side of the road and armed with random old napkins scavenged from the glove box I tried to clean hm up. It was not pretty. We figured he could use some fresh air so even though it was raining a steady light drizzle we found a park to walk in. It turned out to be an excellent walk. Forgive me for not even knowing the name of this place.... you can walk for several miles through gorgeous woods in this place. Maybe it was called Barbian Park? I dunno...

After the walk we stumbled in to a Thai place in Novato, CA and pigged out while Rudy slept it off out in the truck. We had one of the strangest appetizers I have ever had. I wish I had the camera with so I could have shot a pic. It was tempura battered and fried GIGANTIC pieces of taro root, sweet potato and tofu. That was it. Then there was a huge (real) red rose on the plate and some curly cut orange wedges. It looked like fried dinosaur eggs with a bizarre floral side salad. It was dry and it was fried. Somehow we ate it. Why no sauce? Why? Sauce would have made all the difference. Any sauce. Also... this Thai place was playing really cheesy Christmas music. On January 5th. Away in the manger and stuff like this. So it was an odd dining experience at best.

Yesterday we drove down to San Francisco for the day. We left Rudy at home. We had planned to take hm to a doggie day camp in the city but I was afraid he would never make it down there without getting sick again. I am glad we left him because Hwy 1 from Olema down to the Golden Gate is no joke. Billy and I were both still dizzy for like an hour after we crossed the bridge in to the city. We kept our day short so the boober would not be left at home alone for too long. We went to the de Young museum of fine art first. I was SO excited to go there because they are hosting an Yves Saint Laurent exhibit there that will not be showing anywhere else in the United States. IT. WAS. AWESOME. The bloody bastards would not allow any photos to be taken in the exhibit or I would now be filling this page with images from the show. The reason they do not allow photos (I am guessing) is because they sell a book in the museum shop with images of the entire show for $50. If you want pics you have to buy their stinkin' book. I passed on it but I did get myself an YSL coloring book. It has 20 different drawings of his designs that you get to color in yourself. Big fun. A few of the highlights of the show was seeing this piece in person...

Because you don't see that everyday now do you? And they had my safari jacket on display.... the one I sold on eBay back in the spring for a tidy sum. Seen here on the model to the left....

I kinda sorta wish I had kept the damned thing. Not that I would have worn it.... but just to have it. It is museum worthy people. And I sold it. Sigh. Anyway.... they had just an amazing array of his designs from every era and collection. Here is an image I stole off the web of a few of the pieces in the show....

If you are in or around San Fran and have an interest in iconic fashion, vintage or just plain beautiful design it is well worth the price of admission to see this show. Go, go go.

We wandered through most of the rest of the museum rather quickly and then headed on over to Russian Hill to find a late lunch. We parked on Polk St. and I was immediately sucked into a shop called Favor. Ohhhhhh.... Favor. Dangerous stuff it is. It is the home of Hotcakes Design and I love their stuff. I splurged and bought myself one of their carved, hand cast resin rings. It features an image of a porcupine which suits me quite well I think.

We ate at the Bay Bread Boulangerie on Polk and it was fast, cheap and really good food. They have great coffee and a fabulous bakery. They had a good assortment of authentic macarons so I got some pistachio, vanilla and plum to bring home. And then we hit the road to come come.

We pulled off to grab the requisite shots of the Golden Gate looking back at the city.

And we took Hwy 101 home because there was no way either of us would have been able to stand 1 with a full stomach and a tired brain. It's a longer drive but Lord it was worth it.

Today we laid low for most of the day and then drove out to the beach on Point Reyes for a late afternoon walk and to watch sunset. I will post pics in a day or two.

Billy is contemplating having me chop off his long hair tonight. So you have that to look forward to. A possible hairstyle fashioned by me.... on Billy's head. Stay tuned.