Friday, February 17, 2017

Visiting American Pickers Store in Nashville, Winter 2016 Florida - Road Trip

We stopped in Nashville on our return trip to check out the popular American Pickers Store.  We occasionally watch the American Pickers program and enjoy the actors and the things they find. Mostly we see re-runs on our computer now.
Well, finding the store was not as easy, but after following web site directions, find it we did.
The large and old Marathon Automobile factory is quickly filling up with cool new small businesses, places to get a crafted brew, and lots of art.  The American Pickers store fits in well here, with its collection of old musical instruments, vintage motorcycle engines and other antique and dusty items from the world of automobilia.

I liked the first corner on your right as you enter the store, where musicians can sit and jam by the window, under an antique radio sign and guitars on the wall.

Finding an old Fender Deluxe amp was interesting (note the cigarette burns), as was very old broadcast microphones, the old VW motorcycle (yes, a Volks Wagon motorcycle), an Indian Motorcycles store sign, a Hohner Harmonicas spinning sales device, old cameras, antique movie posters, the rusty, the crusty, and otherwise forgotten old stuff.

The store also sells the book, tee shirts and hats promoting the American Pickers program and some small collectible items.  At the checkout they were discussing someone buying a true, hand-picked item seen on one of the shows.

I noticed a couple items from the show presented inside the store as well as some hand-crafted chain lamps where the chain links were welded to stand to make them hold an Edison lamp.
Outside in the parking lot I spied one of the American Pickers trucks used for hauling pickings with the logo on the side just as we were leaving.

Nice visit, wished I could have picked!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Winter 2016 Florida - Road Trip

I don't want to bore you with family matters, but I do want to mention my 2016 Winter Florida trip of Detours.
On the way south during the week before Christmas, we learned the Interstate in Tennessee was closed near Murfreesboro because of a truck accident on I-40.  The wreck involved 2 semi trailers, one carrying hazardous materials.  The truck carrying the haz-mat was on fire, and the problem was it was a full semi of pool chemicals including chlorine, which can create poisonous chlorine gas if water is applied to put out the fire and would greatly increase the evacuation area.  The detour was over 2 hours which meant we would arrive too late that night in Florida for the working family members where we were staying.  After taking the slow, back to back detour along beautiful back roads through the Tennessee country and small towns, we decided to stop early that night, get a good nights sleep and meet our son for lunch the next day.  That all worked out OK.
After getting enough sleep on the southern drive, we decided to repeat this plan on the return trip, taking 2.5 days instead of the ragged 2 day trip.  It did reduce our vacation time, but only by 2 half days instead of being 2 full days short.  On the downside, it did cost us 2 more nights of hotels round-trip.
The next Detour was during the return trip where the traffic on I-70 just stopped about 60 miles east of Columbia, Missouri, where we had planned to stop for gas.  After waiting behind semi trucks for about 20 minutes we learned of an accident ahead online, at first it should be cleared in an hour.  After the emergency vehicles passed us in the safety lane, we pulled over and got off onto the exit about 50 yards down. We got gas, used the restrooms and bought food at a grocery store that we ate in the parking lot.  Now we learned from our phones the accident would take 3 hours or more to clear.
Our GPS is old and has not been updated and on this trip it showed us crossing the Mississippi River on blue water as the I-70 bridge was too new for it to process.  So I pulled out the good ole paper Rand McNally map book and located the roads we would need to follow to get around the accident and back onto I-70.  The route I chose went south of the Interstate, where all the trucks and cars now getting off the Interstate were heading north.  The route followed both the Louis and Clark and the Katy Trails, going along the Missouri River.  It was dark, and these were real farm roads, rolling and twisting a lot, so the drive was not fast.  The Katy Trail peeked out at crossings and we were really in the back country of Missouri.  Then we came upon someone waving a flashlight, and we slowed down to find another wreck in front of us.  This one involved 3 cars, off the road on both sides, one on its roof.  The people involved seemed to be OK and had already called the police, so we left them and turned right at the next intersection, following a more modern state highway back to I-70.  We drove through Kansas City with almost no traffic, (still stuck on the closed Interstate behind us) got a hotel on the west side of Kansas City and drove on home the next day.
We did stop for a couple hours before lunch in Lawrence Kansas, and toured an antique mall in a very busy downtown (the place we wanted to go was closed).  It was a few days before Christmas, but almost all parking spaces were taken and the sidewalks and streets were busy and full of people.  It was like being back in the 1960's small town America.  We will return here some day, less than a days drive from Colorado.
During our trip we spent most of the time with family and close friends, and only had time to stop in one other cool place on the return trip.  I'll tell you about where we stopped in Nashville next time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Last Great Walk book review

The Last Great Walk by Wayne Curtis is about Edward Payne Weston's walk from New York to San Francisco in 1909.  He began this excursion on his 70th birthday, averaged walking 38 miles per day and proposed to finish his walk in 100 days.  The book covers the few roads of his day, troubles with his support team and tells of him walking along railroad tracks for a lot of the way through the west.  The rest of the book details traffic, its incredible growth, designs of roads and how communities and people changed because of the car.
The book also goes into great detail about walking, covering cadence and how many steps we walk today, the rise of La-Z-Boy reclining chairs, how man initially became a walker, navigation and knowing where we are at the time, the type of lands we favor, what happened to the "verges" (that social space between sidewalks and streets where cars now park), and this detail is where I re-read most of the book.
The Lost Geography of Walking, chapter 6, details Marchetti's Constant that proposes humans are willing to spend about an hour each day out and about, traveling and un-sheltered or "commuting". The time our ancestors spent away from their shelters has always been part of an elaborate calculation.  We innately desire larger territory and the rewards that come with it, but there is a price to pay:  it requires physical exertion, and means being in the open, a threat from our enemies and predators.  A human's territory is about how far we can travel on foot in an hour, or about a mile and a half.
Weston finished his 1909 walk in 105 days, battling bad weather, a poor choice of routes and the issues with his support team.  There were people in most every town he walked through who wished him well, many who crowded the streets (getting in his way) and some who were very supportive, providing aid just when it was needed.
Though sad because he didn't make his goal, he resumed the same walk the following year, finishing in 78 days.  This time he walked from the west to the east with the wind at his back, averaged 45.5 miles per day, had a sponsor for the entire trip, a better route and improved trip support.  He was now 71 years old.
Yes, I like this book and recommend it to other walkers, hikers and backpackers, plus anyone who understands human-powered travel like bicycling. Even studious drivers will like the traffic history. The amount of background information is well worth the time and will support your understanding of walking to a high degree.  I still find my self going back to re-read certain chapters, mostly details about actual walking.  If you like to walk, this book is a great reference manual.
Weston continued a few long walks afterwards, but after being hit by a car, he died in Manhattan, 2 weeks after his 90th birthday.  By one account, he had walked ninety thousand miles in his lifetime.
While I may never reach Weston's 40+ mile per day stamina, I still hope to continue putting one foot in front of the other, getting outside to see new things, and walking for as long as life allows me to.
The book The Last Great Walk was purchased by me at a used bookstore, and this review is my own.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

National Park Service 2017 Fee-Free Days

This year we have 6 fewer Fee-Free days at National Parks in the US, 10 Fee-Free days instead of the 16 days like we had last year during the Centennial Celebration.  
Here's the Fee-Free days for 2017:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week weekends
  • August 25: National Park Service birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day weekend
So, next Tuesday, January 17th is the first 2017 Fee-Free day at a National Park near you.  Get out and enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

This winter of my life

I am off work today, bundled inside watching the winter storm work its way in with deepening grey skies, wind whipping the leaf-less trees and dried brown grasses, with the temperature continuing to drop.  It was 9 degrees at sunup today, now it is a balmy 23 degrees, and today's high of 27 was hours ago.  It is forecast to snow later this afternoon, through the overnight and into tomorrow, then slowly clear, with a sunny high of nearly 50 degrees Saturday.
I leave for vacation next week.  This is another quick drive to Florida, to see our son for the holidays, and bring back what stuff we can in my small car.  The 2-day drive will be quick, for sure.  Two 13+ hour days, driving about 1820 miles each way through two time zones, a bunch of major cities, travelling all Interstates will leave us 5 days to visit with family and friends near Orlando.  Then repeat the drive back here with a loaded car.
The weather looks good with no snow or major storms each way.  When we get back, we will both work through the holidays in Colorado, just like we did the past 2 years, and probably will the next 3 to 5.
I will try to write about the trip, as I have before.  Perhaps we will stop someplace cool, or visit a neat site with a story to tell, or catch some photos of a place not seen by us before.
So whether you stay home or travel, please enjoy this holiday season and celebrate it the best you can.  Happy Holidays to you and yours and have a great New Year!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A New Hat

After a long, long fall, winter is finally here in Colorado this year.  While the small amount of snow we have received may be worrisome for those down the Colorado river who depend on our water next spring, it can still be a heavy snow year.  Storms are lined up about every 2-3 days, but sunny days are in between them, melting what little snow we get.  We will have to see.
With the cooling weather, my head was cold whenever I was outside.  My hair has thinned a lot this last decade, and I am wearing it shorter now so it doesn't look like a comb-over.  And my older knit hats just are not as warm as they used to be and they don't cover my ears well.
So I bought a new hat.
A Polartec 200 Fleece Beanie in black from REI.  Usually only $19.50, I got about $3.50 off with the REI winter sale coupon.  The hat is warm and the fits-all size actually covers my ears.  While wearing it out in the wind the other day, the lower 30 degree air reached neither my head nor my ears. Wearing it under my wind jacket hood was just perfect.  It also didn't mess up my hair too much, though my hair is hard to mess up now.  The REI Beanie is available in gray also.
So far, I am very pleased with the new beanie.  It shoves into my coat pocket pretty well, is very light weight, and keeps me warm as toast.  Not a lot to ask of an under $20 item, plus it was on sale!
I purchased this item with my own funds and have not been coerced into reviewing this product by or for anyone.
Remember to "Opt Outside" this black Friday with REI, friends, family and your pets.  This movement is growing and there are many more outdoor groups involved this year; walking, hiking, canoeing and spending time "not in a store".  Unfortunately, I have to work (in media) but will be outdoors in the morning hours Friday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Longest Indian Summer

"This is the longest Indian Summer ever," the waitress said.  She is right, too.  It is November first, the day after Halloween, when it has typically been so cold here in Colorado, that the children have to cover their costumes with winter parkas and stomp through the cold snow and freezing temperatures just to collect candy while saying "Trick or Treat".
I spent several Halloweens in Colorado with my children, freezing while I followed them from house to house with other moms and dads trailing behind.  Sometimes it snowed.  Sometimes there was no snow, but the main constant was cold.  Very cold.  30 degrees, 20 degrees, teens, even colder once, I think.  I remember my hands being so cold I couldn't feel them them anymore.  My feet, too. That was a year it was snowing.  Some parents drank to keep warm.  Those of us not drinking watched after both them and their children.  Finally, we all went home, warming ourselves in front of the gas fireplaces while children checked and ate candy.
I'm sitting with my friend David in a small bar/coffee shop/restaurant in a smaller town in a county as large as an Atlantic state.  David and I had just finished an autumn hike of 5.5 miles at a nearby mountain.  This is one of my favorite local-ish hikes that climbs to 7500 feet, a trail surrounded by spruce trees, a mountain island surrounded by meadows. Yes, this is Spruce Mountain, an open space park in Douglas County, Colorado I have written about here many times.
We had gone for lunch afterwards at a favorite place of David's.  We both enjoyed our lunches, the coffee and latte, the service and local history.  There was a photo on the wall of a man and motorcycle standing among piled boards with a caption about a June 1965 storm, telling how the tornado had taken down the garage, but left no scratches on his motorcycle inside.  That kind of local history.


Our hike had been quite fine.  It was cool today, in the upper 40's when we started on the trail.  It was windy here too, the windiest I had seen yet while on Spruce Mountain.  Windy enough to blow me around at Windy Point, maybe 50-60 mile per hour gusts there.  It is all part of the Palmer Divide weather phenomenon there, where storms stream either north or south at the last minute, confounding meteorologists statewide.  Once back in the trees, the wind was not so bad, the path was wide and sandy.  The climb up to the top loop was very cool along the stony edge, but the temperature warmed up to the low 60's when we got back to the car.  We were the third car here, now there are 11 and one of them is a retirement community bus (seriously active seniors).
So about that Indian Summer thing.  I believe that Global Warming has now reached us and is staring us squarely in the face while we wonder what to do about it.  We cannot turn the calendar back. Maybe we cannot even slow Global Warming, science doesn't really know.  Some don't even acknowledge it, others won't care until their homes are underwater, while others are running around yelling hateful things about it.
I think one thing we can do that can help is to change from heavy, industrial international farming to a local permaculture system where we grow all our food locally and organically without using chemicals, GMO's, or semi-trucking it around the world with logistic networks. Voting for renewable wind/solar/geo energy world-wide, and demanding that we must use it now can help. Making the change to electric vehicles will make a big difference too, but only when we can replace every gasoline vehicle on the planet, cease pumping oil from the ground and giving so much money and power toward it.  Then we must equalize the social differences that create our imbalance of wealth with too few rich and too many poor.  Meet people halfway and share. Then reduce our wasteful get, get, getting and constant consuming and the need for everything to be "profitable".  Part of this is an internal change where we must learn to choose not to hate, choose not to consume, choose food for its locality and healthiness, choose people over profit while treating everyone nice, choose peace over war, choose community with others, choose happiness over pain, just choose to do the right thing.
Perhaps after all those changes and choosing, Global Warming may slow enough, just enough for us to live peaceably together.  That's my opinion.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Camping in the Old Days Photo

While browsing the Internet this weekend, I found a site which featured old black and white photos of the 1920's through 1940's "Tin Can" campers, campgrounds and the sites from that time.  Called "Camping In The Old Days" the site link is available HERE.  
This is truly a collection of picnic photos, including family camping, fishing, hunting, big family and church group events, trailers, tents over old cars, sports photos, business advertisements from all around America, taken earlier this century.
I found one photo that spoke to me.  It is of a specifically designed picnic table which I pictured in my recent blog about my South Dakota Road Trip.  This B&W photo was made in 1957, the year I was born, and was taken at Badlands National Monument.  
Badlands National Monument was authorized in March 1929 but was not "established" until January 25, 1939.  It was designated as a National Park November 10, 1978, just after I graduated College.  The visitor center was constructed in 1957-58, possibly when the park roads, campground and picnic tables were built.
When I saw the picnic table a few weeks ago, it appealed to me in a practical, 'keep your paper plate from blowing onto your chest' sort of way.  I share the photo I took below so you can compare it to the black and white photo above and enjoy its simple, and profound function.  Though the locations in the park are different, the tables are the same unique design.  All the way back to when I was born, up to now, it still functions as intended.  All through my life, and probably more.  Almost 60 years.  That's cool!

Friday, October 21, 2016

South Dakota Trip - Mount Rushmore

So we decided to visit Mount Rushmore again and a new Road Trip was born!  We had been there many years ago and had enjoyed it so much.  I remember it was neat to walk up to see the carved heads of four great presidents, and quite cool to learn about how hard the work had been.
Our drive north on I-25 went to just north of Cheyenne, where we switched onto US Highway 85 at exit 17.  Then we drove into the great Wyoming empty.  The emptiness continued for miles and miles. We teased about UFO's and kidnappings in the night, discussed what used to be in the empty and abandoned buildings en-route, counted cows and birds along the way while driving north through miles and miles of empty.

We found gas in Torrington, laughed at local bar signs in Lingle, passed the Stagecoach Museum in Lusk (didn't stop), finally turning right onto US 18 at the rest area at Mule Creek Junction.  We turned north onto South Dakota 89, stopping for photos at the Bicycle Sculpture in Pringle, SD, before picking up US 385 in Custer.  We passed the Crazy Horse Memorial, talking about how it didn't look so different than it did on our last trip.  The weather had been wonderful all day with the deep blue skies and a few puffy clouds.  Turning right onto SD 244, we followed that to Mount Rushmore.  This is where we found differences since our last trip.

View of the court with state flags
Photo from the railing with the amphitheater
Starting the Presidential Trail
Closer photo from the P Trail
First, you now pay for parking, where before there was no charge.  This was OK because they have built 2 multi-story parking garages, now holding almost 3-4 times the cars they used to.  New also were the first 2 buildings along the causeway, the Amphitheater, and the Presidential Trail.  The carved heads still amazed me like they used to and the state flags by the causeway were a nice feature.

Presidential Trail is all TREX
Lincoln peaks out
Looking up to George
Trail side rocks and trees
The steps down
Roosevelt in the shade 
Looking back at the causeway, restaurants and stores
We did enjoy the Presidential Trail as it rambled under shade trees first down, then across, then back up.  The trail is only half a mile long, but provides many different photo viewpoints, rest stops and even has a children's area.  It also gave a view of the behind the scenes National Park Headquarters and support.  We also visited the Carver's Studio on the way back up having missed that on our last trip.

One of the compressors used on the mountain
And the story about it
View on the way back up
Getting ready to leave
My only close-up photo
Well, we really enjoyed Mount Rushmore again and hope to return some day.  From here, we drove into the riot of Keystone, the National Parks closest village of brightly lit hotels, motels and swag. Picking up US 16 there, we then continued our road trip to Rapid City where we saw the Berlin Wall, then to Wall SD and The Badlands.
Getting to Mount Rushmore had us driving north through Denver on I-25 to US 85 at Cheyenne, then US 18 at Mule Creek Junction to SD 89 at Pringle to US 385 at Custer then east on SD 244.
Total Road Trip miles were just over 1500 and we felt we saw a lot in those 2 days and really got away from home/work.

Friday, October 14, 2016

South Dakota Trip - Deadwood

I like Road Trips!  Especially when legally driving 80 MPH on the Interstates!  This is along I-90, heading west toward our next adventure at Deadwood, SD.  Yes, Deadwood is a REAL place, not just a dream spun by HBO writers.
Named for all the dead trees found in its gulch, Deadwood was originally on land granted to the Native Americans in 1868.  Once gold was found there, people didn't seem to care whose land it was. Prospectors, along with gamblers, prostitutes and gunmen arrived and an outlaw town began.  Well that was the 1870's and the Black Hills Gold Rush, triggered by General George Custer from gold found along French Creek, was fully and roughly underway.
I'm not a gambler, so my interest to go there was the downtown Adams Museum and the Midnight Star, Kevin Costner's bar, restaurant and gambling hall which also holds a collection of Costner's movie memorabilia.

Adams Museum
Adams Museum from US 85
Adams Museum was built in the 1930's donated by pioneer businessman WE Adams.  It was created to preserve the local history of Deadwood and has quite a few pieces of memorabilia.  It has free entry with a donation and all 3 floors have lots of interesting things to look at.  They include items like Potato Creek Johnny's gold nugget, a fossilized plesiosaur, and NC Wyeth's pencil sketch of legend Wild Bill Hickok.  Look for the bordello door and a B&W photo of Deadwood after a major fire.

Midnight Star
Midnight Star belongs to Kevin Costner and his brother.  Upstairs in the restaurant are collections of Costner's films preserved behind glass from Dances with Wolves to Waterworld, the Guardian, the Postman, Field of Dreams and more.  These costumes, props and affects tell some of the story of Costner's successful career in film, with over 57 films, TV shows and shorts and maybe more to come.  They show most of the memorabilia online but left out a couple bicyclists would know, like American Flyers...

Corner building on Sherman Street, love the hand cut stonework
Main Street looking north
I love these Ghost Signs
And this Ghost Sign across the street from Midnight Star
The Silverado Hotel and Gambling Hall
Funny, seeing Deadwood painted on the water tower

Afterward we walked around Deadwood, enjoying the older preserved buildings and architecture. We tried to find the historic Mount Moriah cemetery above town, but got lost on the very steep streets.
Our time was up.  From Deadwood, we drove west/south on US 85 through the Black Hills National Forest.  The clear view and steep drop from the forested mountains all the way down to the plains at Four Corners was awesome!  We drove through the big empty again all the way back to Lusk, where we turned west onto US 18.  One town we passed through was Shawnee, which except for one resident, was abandoned.
At I-25 we drove south back to Castle Rock, arriving around 9:30 PM.  There is one more chapter of this Road Trip coming next week.
Deadwood is located on US 85.  From Rapid City, go west on I-90 to exit 17 and go south on US 85 which becomes Main Street in town.