Going to California-Twice!


March 2017

I have been on the road and remain on the road. It did not take me long to get restless in my new home in St George. Maybe my restless soul will never be content. Or maybe I figured out I need to keep moving before the devil knows where I am.

March 18-20 Death Valley Death Ride


I went for an overnight ride with some motorcycle friends I had met a few days after I move to St George. They claim they are a Honda Goldwing motorcycle club but there is no hard evidence of that. Most of the members do own Honda Goldwing trikes but don’t do a lot of riding. Some own regular two wheel Hondas and the leader of the group owns a Goldwing version of a Spyder like I ride. They are all of an age where they all can make whatever claims they want.

We set out on a cool Saturday morning, hopped on the interstate and headed to Las Vegas. Then we headed north to Death Valley and as we did it got hotter. A lot hotter. By the time we got to the bottom of Death Valley it was 102 with a nice breeze blowing at 20-30 MPH. It pretty much was like riding with a hair dryer blowing in your face. Hot when we rode. Hotter when we stopped.

And we did stop. Often. To see the sights. Death Valley is worth a visit but not so late in the day or when it is so hot. And probably not on a motorbike. At one roadside stop I had to use the facilities. The facilities in such a desolate area are pit toilets.

I may not have mentioned this but since moving to St George my sense of smell, which had been non-existent when I lived in California, had returned. It must have been something to do with the cleaner air and lack of plant life in St George. At an age when most people are losing their senses, it was nice to reclaim one of mine. Food tastes better. I can breathe better. I can tell when there is something on fire on the stove. So it is a useful sense. Not like the sense of decency, which I never had much use for.

But back to the pit toilet. It is 102 degrees. This is a well-used pit toilet that is fully enclosed in a plastic room. The smell of this thing would have made a buzzard leave a gut wagon. Stink would have said that thing stunk. It will take a priest to get that odor out of that place. Wow! So along with it being so hot, that will be my one remembrance of Death Valley.

We soldiered on with most of our little caravan suffering from heat related problems. We motored out of the valley and in a matter of a few miles the temperature dropped 20 degrees and we came back to life. We motored into Beatty, NV to spend the night at a Motel 6.

Now a Motel 6 may not sound like a great place to spend the night, but in Beatty, NV it is as good as it gets. We showed up at 6 PM, with reservations, and some of our rooms were not ready. I do what I always do when faced with such obstacles, I bought a six pack of beer and a bottle opener. The magnet on my bottle opener demagnetized my room key and it and it would no longer work. I went to the front desk to get it reprogrammed and the desk clerk had left to get a sandwich at Subway. There were people standing in line to check in and he was at Subway. Emboldened by a beer, I went to Subway and brought him back to take care of business.

We went out to dinner at Denny’s that night. Once again, we are in Beatty, NV and this passes for fine dining. It was attached to an old casino that had to be ground central for second hand smoke. We ordered food, waited, and then we were told that they were out of spaghetti. Who runs out of spaghetti? I had a breakfast sandwich and a salad and both were quite good. As we were paying our bills, I noticed that our waitress was wearing a very dirty blouse. Not a big worry as I am pretty sloppy when around food myself. But it was covered with animal hair. Who goes to work in a shirt covered in animal hair? What kind of animal was it? Did the animal eat all of the spaghetti? I held my breath and walked back through the casino with so many unanswered questions.

We hit the road for home the next morning and what a difference a day made. Riding through the desert on a cool morning is one of life’s nice adventures. We stopped in Las Vegas to have brunch and then motored on home before it got too hot. I immediately ordered some new gear to make riding in the heat more tolerable.

March 21-23

I spent the next day trying to get some minor repairs done to my house with no success. I used my time wisely and got all of my motorcycle gear cleaned up, paid some bills and started packing for the next leg of my trip.

On Tuesday I played in a pickle ball tournament, took a shower, jumped in my car and started driving to California. I figured I needed to go see some old friends and check on how the drama group is dong with my latest play. I called it quits for the day after driving four hundred miles.

I ended up at a Days Inn in Lost Hills, CA. It was just a wide spot in the road with gas stations, a hotel and a Denny’s. What else does a gadabout really need? I nuked some food, slept, and was back in fighting spirit by early Wednesday morning.

My first stop was to have lunch with an old friend in Lafayette, Ca. She is Chinese so we had Chinese food. Oddly, what we call Chinese food is not what she likes to eat. Once she took me to a real Chinese place where I watched her eat fried duck tongues by the plateful. Apparently it is a delicacy. A people that can make a meal out of duck tongues will eventually rule the world

Then I drove some more to Jackson, Ca. One of my bucket list items was to stay in the National Hotel in Jackson and since the bucket is getting closer to the point where I can kick it, I thought I had better get to it.

clip_image004 National Hotel

I checked into a room that dates back to 1862 when it was called It Louisiana House. The room had a veranda that looked directly down Main Street. The town is an old gold mining town and most of the buildings look original, although that is doubtful, as most gold mining towns burned down fairly often. Whatever, it looked cool.


The view from my room

Jackson is known for its antique shops. I am not at all an antique guy but I was looking for garage art. My taste in art tops out at photos of ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ and other such classics. I am always hopeful that I can find something new to add to my garage walls. And I did: a vintage ‘stop’ sign whose absence, I am certain, is causing chaos at some intersection.

To celebrate my conquest I went to the corner bar, ordered a beer and stared at my phone like the other two patrons were doing. No cell phoned coverage was to be had. We put down our phones and had a conversation. What!? Who does that anymore? One of them looked like Gondorf (sp?) and the other was a rock crawler who was thinking of relocating to St George. Nice visit.

I went back to the National hotel and had a fabulous meal in their really old fashioned dining room: blue cheese wedge, chicken Marsala, red wine, and this chocolate mousse thing that pretty much put me in a diabetic stupor. I thought fondly of my last dinner out at Denny’s. What a difference four days and 800 miles makes.


The wine cellar at the National Hotel

Thursday March 23


Little Red Riding Hood

Thursday was a day of visiting. I started in the foothills with my old sailing friend Andre and his wife Debbie who now live in Murphy, a long way from the ocean where he started. The it was off to Angels Camp to visit Nick and Kathleen who were my across the street neighbors for eight years. Then it was on to Del Webb in Manteca where I use to live a few short months ago. I attended practice of the Drama Group who were working on my latest play, Feeble Fables. It was great to see everyone having a good time with the play and they were doing really well with it.

Then it was off to the street where I lived for eight years to visit some of the neighbors I lived next to for all of that time. Then off to visit some other people who I was close to. It was great to see everyone and catch up a bit. It was totally exhausting and I crashed early and slept like a dead person. This traveling is taking its toll.


The Straw Pig

Friday March 24

I had a couple of more visits to make before I hit the road. I had breakfast, pretty much a standing date, with the lovely Linda W. We discuss the trials of being a mother to a hormonal early teenage grand-daughter. God does not give us more than we can handle. God must think Linda is a bad-ass.

I went to the bay area to visit another friend and then I hit the road home about noon driving in a heavy drizzle. (Is that an oxymoron?) I made good time and ended up in Barstow after driving about four hundred miles. First time I have stayed in Barstow. It could be my last.

Signing off for this time. Next up is the Long Beach Gran Prix but that is 12 days away so I have plenty of time to rest.


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March 25, 2017 · 3:02 pm

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