Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Turn Left at the Trojan Horse by Brad Herzog

The author travels in his RV from his home in California to a college reunion in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca has a Greek mythological connection. The book is the author's RV travel across country and stopping to visit cities named after cities and gods those Greek myths. Weaving Greek myth, the hero myth, conversations with the locals and baring facets of his personal life, this is a most readable book. Makes me want to become more focused and develop themes for my nomadic travels.

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

This is the best biography of the bard that I've read. (I've read very few and there are hundreds of them.) The good part is that Bryson summarizes his research, other materials and three hundred years of words in this slim book. Want to read one book about Shakespeare? This is it.

The Professor and The Madman by Simon Winchester

The concept for the Oxford English Dictionary begins in the middle of the 19th century. Over 70 years later, it was finally complete. Winchester as the ultimate story teller relates the story of the development and the persons who were involved in that process. The most interesting and voluminous contributor of entries to the book was an inmate of an insane asylum.

In a final chapter, the author wonders whether a 20th century madman could contribute similar material after being prescribed today's "better living through chemistry" drugs for mental illness. Certainly an interesting question considering some of the known mental frailties of the visual, written and musical artists of the 18th and 19th century.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Did You See That

As this aging body loses balance, I might want to start training for falling.

After that, head to a restaurant for the newest in red meats ("muscles") offered at this restaurant.

Never mind. I think that was "mussels".

Sunday, June 27, 2010

CCC Interpretive Site

This CCC Interpretive Site is found on Whidbey Island (near Anacortes, WA) at Deception Pass State Park. Hard back breaking labor with few creature comforts, the Civilian Conservation Corps CCC was a manual labor jobs program of the 1930s.

Most of the results of the CCC labors are located in State and National Parks across the country. Buildings, retaining walls and trails are the most visible results of their labor. This a shelter on the grounds of this Washington State park.

The work of stone masons always produces an eye pleasing artistry through textures, rock placements and colors.

After 70 plus years some of these structures from the 1930s are in need of maintenance. Original wood beams are experiencing decay in one form or another. Nature is a relentless recycler. Because the site is deemed historic, the repairs must wait for studies to determine the proper "historic" materials -- the shingles, the paints, etc. Then there are the previous non-historic maintenance which must be removed and corrected.

In the meantime, Nature continues recycling and the money to do the maintenance has now been consumed by studies. Perhaps a better -- and speedier -- approach might be to use 21st technology and get the job done. The usual signage would include a foot note (if anyone reads it -- or cares) explaining what is original and what recent maintenance had been done for preservation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bike Riding Alex

“We’ve forgotten the benefit of surface travel: It forces you to understand, deep in your bones, the distance you’ve covered; and it gradually eases you into a new context that exists not only outside your body, but inside your head.” -- Seth Stevenson, Grounded (2010)

As I travel, I've spotted bicycles with loaded panniers -- sometimes with a small trailer. Most frequently it is two riders -- a couple. And most times it is a man and a woman. The woman is always several 100 yards and sometimes a mile behind the male half of the bike riding duo.

Today it is was solo rider -- Alex from Quebec.

As I was pulling through a stop sign on Fidalgo Island near Anacortes, I spotted Alex with the Quebec flag on his bicycle. Commented to him that he was a long way from home. Soon we were chatting at a nearby picnic area where Alex refueled his body for more miles before his day was over. This bike ride was the result of his employer's downsizing his job. His planned journey will continue through part of California before heading east and passing through Denver on his way back home to Quebec.

Each time I have an opportunity to chat with one of these traveling cross country bike riders, I am humbled and embarrassed to consider myself a traveler. By comparison, I am a tourist.

And to you Alex.... Wishing you safe travels.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blue Skies

Yup. Woke this morning to mostly sunny blue skies. There was a very thin marine layer which soon evaporated with the sun. Tomorrow it is to be more of the same. (We'll see). Needless to say the locals are really happy with the change in weather. After all it was the first day of summer yesterday.

Yesterday when the skies were gray, I headed north to Langley, BC in Canada to visit with San Diego snowbird acquaintances Sheila and Phil. We chatted, had lunch and chatted more as I was given a tour of the valley(s) west of Vancouver.

In the hours we chatted we talked of lots of things. At one point Phil and I were talking of car shows and how we preferred cars that look like the day they were purchased new. I mentioned that in a recent visit to a car show, there were more than the usual number of cars that were stock. The cars had not been converted to some idealistic and artistic version of the original shape.

The stand out for me was this 1951 Ford. Original paint color (Alpine Blue). Original engine -- not overhauled. Original windows with the Ford logo on the windows (that was the last year Ford made their own glass).

The current owner (in his mid 70s) purchased this car in 1980 and restored it to its condition. Why the love for the car. After getting out of the US Navy about 1960, he was a little reckless (his careful wording) and managed to have several accidents in cars of the 1950s vintage. Having survived the accidents, this restoration seems to have been a modest tribute to those cars of his early life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good Looking Turkey

A visit to the Hovander Homestead Park (a county park near Ferndale, WA) was the destination for some exploring. This one time farm caused some recollections from my farm days as a wee tyke.

Since I was only familiar with the wild turkey and the white turkey that arrived in the grocery store at Thanksgiving, I found this turkey to be worth a photo. An internet search (Wikipedia or turkey breeds  and some photos at OSU) found there are just a few domesticated breeds of turkeys. This one is not one that will find its way to your dinner table at Thanksgiving. It is known as one of the heritage breeds. In this case it is the Royal Palm.

The park included vegetable gardens and orchards. And then there was this cultivated weed patch for identification of weeds. Huh. Who cares. A weed is a weed no matter what its name.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Book: Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

This is not a self help book. The author points out that we are woefully unimaginative about predicting our future happiness. With lots of humor and many controlled happiness tests, the author relates that we "stumble on happiness". It isn't planned no matter how hard we try to create a happy future. The author explains that we err when we recall what made us happy in the past. Based upon those errors of past happiness, we are destined to repeat an erroneous imagined happy future.

Making this a personal issue.... Long term readers of the words from the Wandrin blogs have seen the occasional thoughts about stopping the nomadic travel and making a long term commitment to living some place -- an RV park or an apartment. That settled existence will make me no happier than my nomadic travels. I know that. So the solution is to enjoy what is -- where ever that may be. For me it is living in the moment. There is the past and there is a future, but for me it is the present. Enjoy it.

Book: Warren Buffett biography by Alice Schroeder

Title of the biography: The Snowball -- Warren Buffett and the the Business of Life.

Considering that Buffett will turn 80 this summer, there is a lot of material and life in this book about the man. Since I am not a news junkie and don't have a great interest in the world of investing, I knew little about the world of Warren Buffett. The book is thorough and covers Warren from his ancestry through the collapse of the financial markets around the world in 2009. That is a lot of material for an "updated and condensed" 700 page book copyright 2009.

Within the book there is a lot of material about Buffett, the world of finance (as well its seamier and greedy players) and government's financial role. Most amazing is that the very wealthy Buffett built his personal wealth over a period of 60 years through essentially owning stocks. Now Buffett's goal is to give that money away -- either by him or all the philanthropic organizations that he has spawned through acquaintances, relatives and friends.

After reading the book, curiosity wondered about the market price of a share of Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway. Knew it was beyond my means. Checked the internet: $120,000 for a single share as of June 18, 2010.

Wow. Time to check "balance" -- in my checking account.  :-)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Vancouver Visit

Blue skies yesterday. Great day for exploring. Headed off to Vancouver, BC. Drove Silver Slug to King George Station and took light rail to downtown Vancouver at the Waterfront. To see a city without the ordeal of driving and getting around, I took a "Hop On/Hop Off" city tour. A big city with high rises makes for some pretty dense housing.

Downtown is high rise office hotels and condos.

Amid all the high rises downtown is a 1930s masterpiece -- the Marine Building. Inside and outside is the decorative art that adorned buildings of decades ago. Today's structures are straight lines and no exterior decoration -- and not much more inside. An attempt to get an exterior photo.

Some of that decorative exterior detail.

After several hours of hopping on and hopping off the bus walking through China Town and Stanley Park, I worked up an appetite. Had a great (late) lunch at an Indian restaurant in Gastown.

Then it was time to head home back on the other side of the border. The line to return to the US was about 45 minutes long.

Good time to catch up on reading -- on the iPad.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Favorite Color is Blue

Blue skies are even better. There have been a few moments of blue patches in the gray world above where I am parked in the far north western corner of the state of Washington -- across from Vancouver, BC, Canada. No blue spots today and the predictions are for more gray days and possible showers for the next week. Self motivation to explore is tough with 50 degree weather and no sun. The good part -- reading indoors. Been doing a bit of that.

Perhaps a gray day is appropriate considering the latest expenditure. Spent $1000 yesterday to replace Wandrin Wagon's water heater. After six winters of the corrosive waters of Arizona and southern California, the tank started leaking. Fortunately, it wasn't a gusher and I had time to get it repaired on my schedule. The bad part were the blue skies yesterday afternoon when I was at home taking care of Wandrin Wagon's problem.

Weather is always unusual -- no matter where I travel. The locals are saying the weather is unusual. After a mild winter, the spring rains have yet to quit completely. For me with wheels on my home, I can hitch up and start moving south looking for a little more sunshine. The locals are not so fortunate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grand Kitten in a Centerfold

Vanita and Gabe's San Diego home will soon be the new home for Faedra.

Awaiting arrival of Faedra, Vanita gets frequent photos of Faedra at play or in this case posing for the centerfold of a cat magazine.

Book: One For The Road by Tony Horwitz

In the mid 1980s the author moved to his wife's native Australia. His curiosity and with a travel itch that needed satisfying, Horwitz decides to hitch hike the country (a small part) of Australia to learn more about the country and the people. Along the way he finds that distances in the outback are calculated in the amount of beer drunk.

As with any good travel book, the author focuses on the people he meets along the way. The author makes additional comments about hitch hiking and a profile of both parties involved in the temporary riding along the roads of Australia.

I always enjoy reading about travelers in Australia and Horwitz has supplied this most recent read. Arm chair travel is still my style. I certainly will not hitch hike with the prospect of turning to a mummy at the side of the road waiting for a ride.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Five Years Ago

In a fit of boredom, I was rereading some of Wandrin Lloyd's past travel entries.

I came across an entry that I had posted in June of 2005. Sergio (Fernandez Tolosa) is a free lance journalist from Spain whose focus/obsession is riding a bicycle -- most frequently in a desert terrain. When I met Sergio at Owl Pass (apologies for the above poor quality photo) near Ridgeway, Colorado, he was traveling from San Diego to Glenwood Springs, CO to catch a train. I met him after his travels through the Mojave and Death Valley deserts of California.

Wondering if he was still bicycling, I headed to Sergio's web site and the blog. (Obviously in Spanish. Use Google translation to read about his travels.) He still explores the deserts. Reading the translations, he had crossed the Sahara in 2007 -- solo. A more recent entry on his blog posts that he was a participant on a tandem bicycle in Morocco's Titan Desert (sponsored by Nissan) bike race.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

From the Driver's Seat

Vanity Plates:

TOOTCDR -- no doubt a podiatrist

ATESLA -- obviously an electric car

RN-PSYK -- Registered nurse -- psyche ward?

FITFINN -- talked to the lady as she exited her car. Yup. She is of Finnish descent.

SHRTCUT -- on a four wheel Jeep

BENHERE -- probably the driver is Ben

KIDSMNY -- on an RV

FORTRAN -- FORTRAN is a mathematical programming language. An appropriate vanity plate for an Infinity.

SLGBUG1 -- of course it was on a VM bug.

Several others without comment:


Clever business name:

Gesundheit  provides "Air Quality Services" searching for allergens and molds in your home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reaction To Oil Spill

Thomas Swick created a cartoon regarding the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Treichel Ridge


That was one of the reasons for my specific route through eastern Oregon. Several years ago when I was doing my infrequent genealogical searches, a Google hit returned "Treichel Ridge". Once I figured out where that was, it became a destination -- perhaps a mono minded obsession to see "Treichel Ridge".

A map of Oregon and the approximate location of the ridge found the nearest location on my journey was John Day, Oregon. (Stayed at the Grant County RV park at the Fairgrounds in John Day. Quiet and $20 a night for full hookups and walking distance to downtown.)

With the coordinates, I was able to tag it on the 2008 Topo maps from Garmin RoadTrip software.

Plugged the coordinates in the Garmin 255W and the Garmin Legend HGs and headed out on a long drive. The location was about 70 miles from John Day. An overcast and cold day with occasional rain showers was a good day to be indoors -- the cab of Silver Slug. The road was through National Forest and cattle country with little other road traffic. The human population was a ranch -- perhaps every five miles. Coming across a couple of cowboys moving cattle was a high light of this journey.

Hills, ridges, sage brush, grass, rock outcroppings was the scenery along most of the distance I traveled. When I arrived at the road where I could get close to the coordinates, that road was under construction. I would have to wait for the pilot car. How long would that be. It could be another half hour. Not sure I cared enough to wait to get a close look at Treichel Ridge. When I went to a nearby village of Paulina (a post office general store), I inquired about a cemetery in the neighborhood. It was down that same under construction road.

Some days the curiosity goes unanswered and the questions remain. Why was a geological feature named Treichel Ridge. Who was that Treichel. Perhaps the answer may have been found at Oregon's Crook County seat. That was another 50 miles away to the west in Prineville. No guarantee that I would find anything. Perhaps another time I will try to resolve my curiosity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Round Barn

From the over top architecture of Las Vegas to the artistry and inventiveness of the 19th century, the Pete French Round Barn is certainly a treasure. This is the only one left of three that were originally built in the valley.

Built about 1880, it survived with the continued care of ranchers until the 1970s when it was deeded to a state  historical group. (Editorial side note: The shingled roof needs replacement. Now! However, with the government involvement, the roof may collapse while they do a multitude of studies with numerous experts to make sure it is done right and in a historic manner. Sounds laudable, but why not just do the repairs before any more damage occurs.)

Designed for horses, the building's center was a stable. The covered circular track around the central stable was a winter training and exercise space for horses.

The detail workmanship throughout the building can be seen in the construction of this gate or the rock that surrounds the central part of the stable. Note mortise and tenon construction of the gate.

For your personal tour, head to the Malheur NWR south of Burns, Oregon. Take a road tour around the refuge and there will be signs pointing to the French Round Barn.

After a tour of the round barn, I stopped at the Round Barn Visitor Center. A museum and western gifts store, it was worth the stop. Owner Dick Jenkins was a delight as he related history and his life in the valley as a cattle rancher.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another Driving Day

The roads were mostly straight sections today from Winnemucca, Nevada to Burns, Oregon. The highways followed the valleys between hills and mountains. Cattle ranches were scattered along the way and a few irrigated hay fields had been claimed from the usual sage brush.

The drive was pleasant compared to the very short distance on I-80 yesterday. Hate freeways.

In addition to the cattle pasturing in the sage brush, there were deer, antelope, occasional hawks and crows perched atop a power pole. Or in the absence of power poles -- they were perched on fence posts. The wild life was balanced with at least one flattened snake. Soaking up warmth on the highway was a bad decision.

On one straight section of about 70 miles I was passed by three cars and met six. This is my kind of travel.

Soon the satellite radio was turned off and my mind was planning near term 2010 travel; tentative travel plans for years 2011 and 2012; where to settle when done wandering.... No firm decisions were made, but the field of possibilities was narrowed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Passing Through

... Las Vegas. After I did the laundry and big city shopping, I stayed a few extra days to meet with Donna and Roy for dinner. They were on a road trip heading to California's Sequoia and Yosemite.

Why pass through Las Vegas. Without a bridge, the Grand Canyon happens to be something of a barrier to heading north. The only way around the Grand Canyon is Las Vegas or Page, Arizona.

This year my destination is eastern Oregon. Last year it was the north rim of the Grand Canyon when I passed through Las Vegas. CityCenter (aerial view) was under construction when I passed through last year. This year it is mostly complete. It is the typical Las Vegas in-your-face design, size and construction. With hotel, casino, dining, residences and shopping, it is a self contained village.

 Walking through the shopping area of sculpture and unusual design, I was wondering why I wasn't asked for a net worth statement. It is one of those shopping areas if you ask how much -- you can't afford it.

A high end restaurant (white coated waiters) is inside this sculpture contained within the shopping center.

 Another interior view of the shopping area. With angles and curves. The design and lack of the usual keeps the brain busy. There are few assumptions that the brain can make.

For me, the other attraction is the Bellagio water show. With a water show choreographed to music, it is fantastic entertainment. The bad part was that I heard the same music and water show when I passed through last year.

Yesterday morning it was 83 degrees when I hitched up in Las Vegas at 6:30. The official temperature high for the day was 105 degrees. I wasn't there. I broke my 200 mile rule and drove over 300 miles to find relief from that heat. The temp was 85 degrees when I arrived at Bob Scott NF CG. This is my kind of place.

That is what is called achieving balance.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Palm Pre Experience

After receiving several emails regarding Verizon's Palm Pre, how about I share my experience with all my readers.

For me the Palm Pre is essentially a phone. The Palm Pre has all the apps to compete with the iPhone and Blackberry products. However, that is not why I purchased it.

The purchase of the Palm Pre was for its WiFi hot spot capabilities. Many mornings as I have my breakfast shake, I turn on the hot spot capability and use the Apple iPad to surf the internet for news and some other sites. Since the iPad is mostly an eReader, there may be a check for another eBook to download for one of the many eReader applications (Kindle, B&N, etc.) on the iPad. If there is no reason to get on the iMac computer for intensive internet searches or downloads, I may do more browsing on the iPad using the Palm Pre hot spot. Depending on the size of the blogging requirement for the day, I can also do a Wandrin blog entry there.

I am not quite ready to give up the Verizon USB760 air card. If I could keep my usage below 5GB, the Palm Pre would be the perfect solution. It would be both a phone and data access. Over the next 20 plus months, I will see. However, by that time there will be new technology to consider.

The major reason for keeping the USB760 is that it has the capability for an exterior antenna. Attaching it to a Wilson truckers antenna with the use of an amplifier improves a weak signal and having access to the internet. (Yup. Would be called an addiction.) In a recent stay near Flagstaff, the Palm Pre reported no signal where via the antenna and amplifier I was able to get two bars.

At one time I had a MacBook and an iMac (desktop). I sold the MacBook and purchased the iPad to replace the MacBook for those times when I wanted a portable method to access the internet. Since the iPad is portable and I can take my portable hot spot (the Palm Pre) with me, I don't have to rely on the free and unsecured Wi-Fi availability -- which is becoming rarer each day.

I have used the Palm Pre as a hot spot for the iMac. Works fine. Just like any other WiFi site -- if the signal is good.

When the Palm Pre is in hot spot mode, it does get quite warm as it requires more power to send the signal to the receiving devices. That additional power usage does drag down the battery. Typically, I charge the Palm Pre every other day -- depending on usage. I haven't seen a need to get another battery. Yet. Considering my limited usage, I don't think the spare battery will be a requirement. The other alternative is to plug in the charger while using the Palm Pre in hot spot mode.

Verizon is in business to make money (surprise). The monthly charge for the USB760 is $60 a month. The voice minutes on my Palm Pre is $40 a month. The charge for data usage on the Palm Pre (accessing the internet and hot spot requirements) is an additional $30 a month for 5GB of data. On top of that are all the taxes and surcharges.

Oh. By the way. I love the Apple iPad. Beats the Kindle as an eReader. There must be a lot of other people loving the iPad. There have been two million units sold in the last two months since I purchased mine on the first day it was available.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Expensive Wallpaper

When parked at Bullhead City, one of my exploring days I headed over to Oatman Arizona. Route 66 passed through this one time gold mining town.

One version of why Oatman died is contained in this monograph.

No gold to mine. Hit the pockets of the tourists. The draw is its onetime Route 66 connection, the burros roaming around town looking for a carrot handout and the Oatman Hotel was the site for the John Wayne/Carole Lombard honeymoon.

To keep the tourists in town and spending, there is a staged robbery and gun fight in front of the Oatman hotel. Carrots are for sale, as are the usual kitschy stuff found in every tourist town. There were John Wayne souvenirs, items with Route 66 connection and several other souvenirs pertaining to a visit to the Southwest. Some had "Oatman, Arizona" prominently displayed on the item so you would know where it came from.

The bar and restaurant at the Oatman Hotel is wall papered with some fine greenbacks. Pretty expensive wallpaper. Looking at the walls, ceilings, railings, it appears there may be thousands of one dollar bills. Most are signed and dated. Looking real close, I assured myself it was real money. (See the inset enlargement.)

Throwing money in wishing wells or pasting money to walls is not the way I want to part with my money.