Tuesday, July 29, 2014

off the road again

We put a bunch of miles on that dusty Prius -- 15 hundred maybe? -- and have come to the last stop on our road trip -- Reno, Nevada -- from where we will fly home after a couple days of recovery.

What a trip, though.  I'm especially surprised how much I liked Northern California.  If I ever decide to "drop out" of my life back home, that might be where you'll find me, being a hermit and growing a beard and drinking some Scotch and writing my book.

Monday, July 28, 2014

scoobert moves back east

I'm feeling sad this week for Ruthie, my niece and one of my faithful blog followers.  She and her family, due to circumstances, just moved into a home that has a policy of No Dogs Allowed, which meant that she needed to, for a time at least, give up her beloved dog Scoobert.  She has had Scoobert for, I'm not sure, 12 years maybe?, and Scoobert has been there with her through thick and thin, including the big move a few years ago from New Jersey to Minnesota.

So what Ruthie did was, with many tears, ship Scoob off to her mom, Vickie, in North Carolina,  where he will be in good hands, being pampered by his "grandma" and learning to bark with a Southern accent.  Hugs to you, Ruthie -- and Scoobert too.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

haydn and the giants

My friend Elke in Germany send me a CD of a chorale concert that she was recently a part of -- "The Creation", an oratorio by Franz Joseph Haydn -- and we listened to this excellent recording as we drove today through the Avenue of the Giants -- the magnificent giant redwood trees of Northern California.

Today's drive was a couple hundred miles of up and down mountains of narrow roads and hairpin curves, and we were glad to arrive at our hotel tonight.

More driving tomorrow but less beautiful and less treacherous.

So far Jerry just has one speeding ticket.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

just north of Mendocino

Highlights of my California trip day today --

--  Lunch in Berkeley, near the University.  It made me remember Mario Salvo, who I bet most of you don't...
--  Not having road rage while sitting in massive traffic jams...
--  The drive on Highway 128 north of San Francisco between Cloverdale and Mendocino...

Tomorrow, the giant redwoods.  Bear with me, this trip won't last forever.

Friday, July 25, 2014

feeling like a wild goose

Jerry was still sleeping and I was feeling antsy, so I hopped in the Prius -- a brand I will never own, by the way -- and am currently having an early-morning Kona coffee and chocolate macaroon at a place called the Wild Goose Cafe in downtown Carmel Valley Village, CA, which is very close to the great cabin where we spent the past two nights.  It's a beautiful morning and feels like every morning should feel and hardly ever does.

Today we explore the Monterrey Peninsula a little more -- Jerry has his eye on doing the Monterrey Aquarium and I would sort of like to stop in at the Steinbeck museum in Salinas -- and then we head north, where there is no way that the scenery can be as nice as it is here.

I'm doing my best to not make this a travelogue blog and am failing miserably.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

California is many things

Have you ever noticed that the coolest people are the people who have no idea how cool they are?  Some people will never be cool, yet they try so hard!

Ah yes, cool, California.

Lots of beautiful scenery the past couple days --  desert, mountains, crops of produce as far as you can see.

The one place on this trip I requested that we see:  Big Sur and the Pacific Coast north and south of it, not just for the scenic beauty of it but for the artistic history associated with the area:  Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, etc.  Today was Big Sur day.  I tried to take pictures of it all, but I can't do any of it justice:  It's just too big.

One more check off my Bucket List.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2 bad passengers in a Prius

Volkswagen used to have an advertising slogan that went something like this:  "On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers.  Drivers wanted."

I admit to being the world's worst passenger, and Jerry isn't much better, and we both enjoy driving (And being in control?).  It doesn't help my nerves that he is a super-aggressive, tail-gating driver, and it seems to annoy him that as a driver I'm way more cautious and, let's face it, practically perfect.

So the next six days on the road through California in a rental Toyota Prius should be interesting.

Today we face about 8 hours of taking turns driving, ending up at the Pacific Ocean, staying somewhere near Carmel.

In a few minutes, we once again check out of Las Vegas.  Three nights here is plenty, but then before long I'm anxious to get back.  Some people have their lake cabins or boats or other vacation homes as their escape.  I have Vegas, that symbol of capitalistic excess that politically I might find obnoxious but in my heart of hearts I love.  I guess that I'm more American than I like to admit.

California, here we come!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

let's give thanks for the pill

Back in the mid-60s, I heard Bob Jones III (one of the Bob Jones University's Bob Joneses) giving a sermon in which he lamented the invention of penicillin and the birth control pill because they took away two of the weapons fundamentalists had historically used to scare followers into not having sex:  certain venereal diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

For some reason, his stupid comments keep coming back to my memory as I hear the current discussions about birth control following the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision.  Certain religious figures still think of unwanted pregnancies as punishment for having sex that doesn't have procreation intent.  I wonder what percentage of their pew-dwellers think that it's all a crock while nodding in solemn agreement.

the border kids

I've been thinking a lot about the kids in detention along the Mexican border in Texas that have been smuggled from Central America after escaping unimaginable violence and other dangers and are apparently going to be sent back... And trying to understand the anger at these kids from the American political right-wing, whose compassion, real or pretended, apparently goes no further than inconvenient fetal tissue.  The attitude seems to be, once babies are out of the womb, then the hell with them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Hey, we're going on a California road trip, after a flight to Vegas and three of those free nights at the Bellagio that I have a hard time resisting.

For some time now, Jerry has been wanting to do a leisurely drive through parts of California that I personally haven't been to and that he has only seen parts of.  The plan is that we will drive from Las Vegas (Nevada, of course) across California to the Central California Coast -- Monterrey, Big Sur, etc., and then up past San Francisco to the giant redwoods and whatever else is up that way.  He has it all planned day by day, and we'll be gone about ten days altogether.  It's an unusual kind of vacation for us -- except for the Vegas part, of course.

News out of California these days:  A severe drought in most of the state -- all kinds of water restrictions.  Not fun.  Also, there is a sort of a movement in that state and a referendum that will be on the 2016 ballots to divide California into six different states.  That's a bizarre concept, and even if it wins the vote, it still would have to be approved by the U.S. Congress, which is probably a major obstacle.  How many other states would want to split up if this happens?  California often leads the way and not always in a good way.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

unlikely comrades

Something odd has happened.

One of my main concerns when we bought this suburban home, even though it's just barely in the 'burbs, was that suburbs are cold and have no soul.  Where, for instance, do Golden Valley-ites gather, where do they meet each other, where do they socialize as a city?  This particular city didn't even seem to have a neighborhood bar, a watering hole, a place where everybody knows your name?

One evening back in January, though, on a whim, we stopped in at the local American Legion club because we knew they had a bar, so we skeptically thought, Why not?  My image of an American Legion was a place full of right-wing old soldiers exchanging war stories.  I mean, I served my time in the Army after being a reluctant draftee, followed by all these years of being a pacifist veteran, but the last thing I wanted to ever do was be reminded of those two years of mine.

My fatigue jacket.
This particular American Legion turned out to be the friendliest place I have ever walked into and over the past six months has become our go-to hang-out.  Jerry tells me that in all the years that he has known me, he has never seen me as comfortable in a social setting as I am there.  We have made good friends and had fun.  Occasionally somebody tells a war story.  Maybe I have made peace with my own story.

Friday, July 18, 2014

which ones are the murderers?

What a brutal week in the news.... Civilians on all sides being killed in the Middle East, which leads to revenge murders, which leads to more killings.....  A passenger plane being shot down over Ukraine for no reason except intimidation.... It's not going to get any better, is it?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

just you wait, 'enry 'iggins!

We could have danced all night, but instead we spent a wonderful evening sitting in theater chairs watching the Guthrie's new production of My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady, is, of course, a classic and probably the best-written Broadway musical ever created.  It premiered on Broadway in 1956 with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews -- hard acts to follow -- as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle.  For me, an admittedly sentimental and nostalgic guy, it's a favorite, so last night I treated 15 friends (mostly co-workers and their significant others) to tickets.  Some had never seen a show at the Guthrie Theater before and just seeing the Guthrie is a treat in itself.  Some others had never seen My Fair Lady staged before or had never seen it in any form.  The show was a hit with all.  The Guthrie, as expected, did a phenomenal job.  All of the performances were top-notch, but one stand-out was Tyler Michaels. Even though in a relatively small role, he perhaps stole the show with his rendition of "On The Street Where You Live" and his portrayal of the goofy character Freddy Eynsford-Hill.  Amazing sets, loverly costumes, all the stuff you expect from the Guthrie.  If you're local, it's there at the Guthrie until the end of August.  Lots of sell-outs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'forever' keeps getting shorter

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

"Forever Young"
-- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trout's in Minneapolis

Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Game is tonight, and, guess what, it's right here at Target Field, just a few blocks from where I'm sitting in my office.

I'm not going to the game, but it's fun having all this excitement downtown.  This afternoon, there is a "red carpet" parade featuring each of the All Stars and a bunch of other hoopla.  I'll walk over there for that, hoping to get a chance to wave to Mike Trout, arguably the best overall player in baseball.  Mike Trout and I, you see, are from the same hometown, Millville, New Jersey, and how often is there another Millville guy here in downtown Minneapolis?  Besides being the best player, he also has the reputation of being the nicest guy in baseball.   He has made Millville proud.

So, I'm wearing my Trout/Millville t-shirt today, a throwback to when he was on the Millville High School Thunderbolts team, and people say, "Where the heck is Millville?"  So I tell them.  Jersey pride, you know.

Check out this link to an article in USA Today about the Mike Trout/Millville connection:

USA Today story from May 2014

ADDED LATER:   Way to go!  Not only did Mike Trout play in the All Star Game, but he won the Most Valuable Player of the Game Award!