Monday, March 30, 2009

We Arrived in Barstow and I hope we don't blow away!

We're staying at a Marine base near Barstow. Would you believe that the only way I can get Internet access here is to go find the library? And of course, since it's Sunday, the library is closed. So, I'm going to go ahead and write this up and try uploading tomorrow if I can find a WiFi hotspot. Maybe I can pull into one of the truck stops near town and catch their hotspot long enough to upload this post and see what is going on.

The weather in Death Valley this morning was really nice. There were some high thin clouds and it was cool, but not enough to have to wear a jacket. After breakfast, we came out of the restaurant in time to see a motorcycle club lining up for their run through Death Valley today. There were at least 24 or 25 bikes. Some of the bikes were absolutely gorgeous and I know my brother would have drooled all over them. I spoke to one of the women with the group and found out that they are with a club in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. The whole time we were there in Death Valley, we saw dozens and dozens of motorcycles of all kinds. From dirt bikes to choppers, from full dressers to stripped down off road bikes, you name it, they were all over the valley. But then the weather this weekend was perfect for enjoying a ride....

We decided to visit one more place in Death Valley before heading down the highway. The place is called Dante's View. And oh what a view you get from there! It's about a 13 mile drive off the highway on a semi-narrow 2 lane paved road and you go from about 1500 feet above sea level to about 5600 feet with the really "stiff" climb in the last mile of the drive. Once you get up to the view point, they've leveled off an area that gives you a 360 degree view. Part of the view is of the valley floor below and the Panamint mountains on the other side. Check out these pictures:

DSC01807a This one looks North towards the area where Furnace Creek is. The air is kind of hazy because there was a bit of a breeze kicking up some of the alkali dust.
DSC01808a This is looking across the valley towards Telescope Peak. (That's the one with the snow on top of it.) Down below, invisible behind the bushes and hills is Badwater, the lowest point in the United States.
DSC01811a And this one is looking towards the South end of the valley.

Once we left Death Valley it was a fairly uneventful drive across the desert until we got to Baker, California. Then it got windy and we got on I15 and joined all the traffic heading towards the LA area. I'm guessing that a lot of them had been in Vegas and were heading home... Speed up, slow down, speed up, put the brakes on and come to a stop. Why? Well, someone was on the side of the road changing a tire and there was a Highway Patrol car sitting behind them. **sigh** Oh yeah... About half-way to Baker, my cell phone suddenly started beeping... And beeping... All the text and voice messages that had come in while we were out of cell range in Death Valley caught up to me. lol

Once we got closer to Barstow, we took a shortcut south and got on I40. Much better! No traffic! LOL! So now we're all settled in to a little 2 bedroom guest unit here on the Marine Base. We've had our dinner and my Mom and Stepdad are watching TV. The wind is howling outside. The closer we got to Barstow, the stronger the wind was blowing. I sure hope it calms down some tomorrow! Hmm... I think I'll go watch TV and snooze a while... lol

The library on the Marine base has internet access, but only if you use their computers. So we found a truckstop that has a WiFi hotspot, so I'm uploading yesterday's blog entry... Who knows when I'll get back on the net.... LOL... By the way, the wind isn't trying to blow us away today! Hurray!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Death Valley ~ Day 2

Today's travels in Death Valley took us to quite a few places... This morning, we started by driving north to Salt Creek so we could see some of the pupfish that live in that salty creek. Check the picture out... See the white stuff on the hills and on the ground? It's essentially salts that coat everything.

The stream is apparently very salty , so very few things live in it. The pupfish though, have adapted to the salty and arid conditions of Death Valley. There is a boardwalk that circles out around the area where the creek runs above ground, and in several areas, we could see the pupfish swimming around. This is spring and that means it's spawning season so it was pretty interesting to watch how territorial the little fish were. (They're about the size of minnows!) The males stake a "claim" to a section of the stream and then chase all other males out of that area while welcoming the females in... From what we read on the information signs posted around the area, the pupfish thrive when there is water in the creekbed. Everything is hurried though. They have to grow, mate and spawn while the water is present. Once the water dries up, the tiny little fish bury themselves in the sand and go dormant until the next rain storm fills the creekbed with water again.

Next stop was the Harmony Borax Works which is just north of Furnace Creek. Back around the turn of the century (and earlier) they used to scrape the "raw" borax off the salt flats that you see in the distance behind the wagons in this picture and then process the stuff into borax in the processing "plant" that was up on the hill sort of behind where I was standing when I took this picture. Those wagons are what the 20 mule teams hauled the borax in... Something like 36 tons worth of borax and water (1,200 gallons of drinking water!). Back then it took 20 mules to move the 36 tons.. Today one semi truck can move 40 tons.. What a comparison, huh? We visited the Borax Museum that is on the grounds of the Furnace Creek Ranch after leaving the site of the Harmony Borax Works. Then off to lunch at the ranch...

After lunch, we headed south and then followed a graded dirt road a ways down to the Devil's Golf Course. Mom and I got out to take some pictures while my Stepdad sat in the van (with both back doors open so the breeze could blow through.). Mom and I walked out onto the "golf course" a little ways so I could show her how hard those bumps of salt and dirt were. The peak you see in the background is Telegraph Peak. It's the highest peak in the Panamint mountain range at a bit over 11,000 feet. By contrast, Furnace Creek is at about 190 feet below sea level and Scotty's Castle is at about 3,000 feet above sea level!

Next stop was Badwater. The lowest point in the United States. It's 282 feet below sea level! When (and if!) you hear the weather man tell you how hot is was in Death Valley, they got the temperature from the weather station next to the cliffs here at Badwater. If I remember right, one of the signboards here said that the record high temperature was 137 degrees! Luckily, today it was in the mid-eighties with a light breeze blowing. lol... There is a pool of water at Badwater that is so salty it is undrinkable. The story goes that one of the early miners tried to get his mule to take a drink from the pool, but naturally the mule wasn't cooperating. So the miner tasted the water and proclaimed it "bad".. Hence the name Badwater and it stuck...

On our way back towards Furnace Creek, we decided to take a detour on the "Artist Drive".... It's a narrow one-way road that winds up through a number of canyons that takes you past incredibly colored hill/mountain sides... Reds, greens, purples, golds and browns all swirl around on some of the hillsides. Almost like huge buckets of paint got splashed all over the hills. It's well worth the time to take that detour.. And the plus is that the whole route was paved! (I'm already catching heck from my stepdad for getting his car all dirty and dusty from some of the dirt roads we've traveled.. lol)

Last picture for today is one of a rock that we spotted alongside the road on our way back. I haveno clue what kind of rock it is nor why it's shaped so strangely. the thing stands there well over 6 feet tall. The base of it looks almost melted. The top of it has roundish depressions in it. (I don't know if you can really tell from the pictures I took.. lol) The rock stands about 20 or 30 feet off the road and there are no signs or anything around that tells what it is and why it's there. It almost looks like some really strange modern art sculpture, but after getting up there next to the thing, I'm sure it's natural. A lot of the other rocks on the slope around it have a similar texture and some of them even have the roundish depressions in them. If anyone spots this entry on my blog and knows what the heck the thing is, please leave a comment! LOL, Mom and I are curious about it!! Hmm.. Maybe we'll have to stop by the Visitor's Center and ask a ranger before we head out of the valley tomorrow morning....
Oh yeah.. Tomorrow we're headed for the Barstow, California area.... I'll try to take some more cool pictures to share on our way down there....

P.S. Tomorrow sometime we'll actually get to use our cell phones again! I am sure I'm going to have a bunch of messages from my trucker friend... lol

Death Valley ~ Day 1

Ok, I'm back with a continuation of yesterday's story of our travels. I left off last night with the picture of the sign at the entrance to death valley. (And the picture of the coyote! LOL) After heading down the road from the sign, we came across an area that had a lot of wildflowers in bloom and of course we had to stop and take a look. There were lots of purple, yellow and white flowers blooming on both sides of the road. I looked at one of the wildflower books in the Visitor's Center, but I couldn't really identify what kind of flowers they are. They sure were pretty to look at as we drove down the highway. We got a few glimpses of the dunes and salt flats on the floor of the valley. The speed limit along here was 45mph, so I had plenty of chances to admire the scenery!

Next stop was Scotty's Castle in the north end of the valley. I took the tour of the inside of the house and was bowled over by the beauty of the place. The docent that was conducting the tour was great. She gave us lots of stories of Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons (Who really owned the "castle".) Before taking the tour, we (I should say Mom and I, because my stepdad found a shady spot and stayed put for the most part.. lol) wandered around some of the other buildings and followed one of the "waterways" that runs between the Castle and the Stables. We ended up spending most of the afternoon there wandering around and exploring. As the afternoon wore on, we figured we'd better head down to Furnace Creek and get checked into our room. About halfway between the castle and the cutoff that we had come into the valley is where we spotted that coyote. As we crested a little hill and spotted a car sitting still in the opposing lane. Then we spotted a "critter" in the middle of the road behind them. It looked as though someone had dumped a bunch of chips or something all over the road, perhaps thinking the coyote would eat the stuff. Doh.. Coyotes are meat eaters, I don't think they like chips that much. I took the one shot from back near where the other car was and then started driving slowly towards the coyote. He didn't want to move out of the way and I was starting to wonder if maybe I should honk the horn. He finally moved when we were about 6 or 7 feet from him. We drove past, then it dawned on me that I should have zoomed in and gotten a closeup of him! lol... So, I stopped again and stepped out of the car. He was about 20 yards or so behind us, but when I stopped, he started walking towards us. Step by step, slowly, never taking his eyes off me. I zoomed the camera in and snapped off one shot and watched him approach closer. Then, when he was about 10 feet or so behind the car, I snapped another shot and climbed back into the drivers seat. He slowly walked along side the car, looked mournfully up at the window where I was, walked out in front of the van, stared at it, then moved back onto the yellow line... And we moved off down towards Furnace Creek and the Ranch where we are staying.

More later tonight, my Stepdad has decided we are going to dinner...... Now. LOL

We're back!

Now, on with the story... After checking in at the Furnace Creek Ranch and then getting some dinner, we headed over to the Death Valley Visitor Center. They had a program scheduled that sounded interesting. "Heroes, Hermits and Villians" was the title of the program and the description says: "A variety of fascinating characters lived in and around Death Valley and helped create an iconic image of the West." It was a pretty interesting program all about some of the early pioneers, miners and characters that lived and worked in this place.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We Made it to Death Valley!

We left my folk's house yesterday morning about 7am, give or take a few minutes and headed east into the mountains. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground up in the pass, but the roads were good. I got messages from my trucker friend letting us know what the weather was up on Donner Pass. Threatening clouds and a drizzle or two. No snow!

We stopped for breakfast at a little cafe in downtown Truckee. Food was pretty good and their bakery stuff looked yummy. My stepdad bought 2 Apple crisps and presented them to Mom and I. Since we were pretty full from breakfast, we carefully placed them in the car so we wouldn't lose them.. lol.. The weather there in Truckee was pretty good. We could see the threatening clouds that my trucker friend warned us about, but we didn't get any of the drizzles until we got closer to Reno. We stayed on I80 until we got to Fernley and then headed south on Highway 95. The drive down to Tonopah wasn't bad, if you don't count the wind we had to fight almost all the way there. We pulled into Tonopah about 3:30 or so and decided to stay for the night instead of heading down closer to Death Valley. There are a lot more choices of places to stay in Tonopah than there are down in Beatty or one of the other small towns along the highway. Tonopah is in the high desert. 6000 feet above sea level! The wind was still blowing hard last night, but this morning, it had calmed down. So, after having a lovely breakfast at the Tonopah Station, off we went.... Southbound on Highway 95. By the way, those apple crisps that my step-dad bought in Truckee yesterday morning made a lovely snack last night..

DSC01743-a This is one of the views out the windshield as we headed south.. Long straight road, desert, mountains and blue skies...

Our original plan was to drive down 95 to Scotty's Junction and then head west into Death Valley. One of the concerns my stepdad had was buying fuel here in Death Valley, so we planned on fueling up before heading west. Well, when we got to Scotty's Junction our plans changed. Scotty's Junction consists of a turn-off towards Death Valley, an abandoned building that looked like it might have once been a store/gas station and a brothel off the road to one side... Plan change! lol, We headed further down to Beatty and fueled up there and headed west into Death Valley.


Here's the first indication that we've reached the park... One lonely sign and nothing else for miles.. lol.. Scotty's Castle was the first stop here in the Valley (Fabulous place!), then we headed to Furnace Creek and got a room at the Furnace Creek Ranch...

I've got a lot more photos to share, but It's late, I'm tired and I'll have to do some more writing tomorrow when I get a chance.. But I'll leave you with a "teaser" and I'll tell the story of the encounter and the picture when I get back online...DSC01778a Yes, it's a coyote and yes, he's walking straight towards me on the road between Scotty's Castle and Furnace Creek. And yes.. I was out of the car... lol

More tomorrow... I hope! After all, it's now after 10pm and I just know my stepdad is going to be up and ready to go with the sun in the morning... LOL

Saturday Morning:

I forgot to mention in the post above that if any of my family are trying to get a hold of me on my cell phone, I'm sorry... My cell phone has NO signal here in Death Valley... lol.. The ranger we listened to last night told us that there are only about 3 or 4 spots in the valley where you can use a cell phone and none of them are here in Furnace Creek...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Something Different ~ Extreme Sheep LED Art?

I stumbled upon this video while surfing around the internet using the Stumbleupon tool and I just had to share this video that the tool took me to... What I want to know is how they managed to come up with the idea of putting LED lights on sheep and then herding them around! lol...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stuff in the News ~ Local and Otherwise

I know I haven't been blogging a whole lot lately... But it's hard to keep blogging about the same things all the time without constantly repeating myself. Casey Anthony is still in jail awaiting trial for murdering her daughter, Caylee in Orlando, Florida. Phil Spector is still on trial (retrial) for murdering Lana Clarkson in Los Angeles, California. Drew Peterson is still out and about shopping for a new wife while his 4th wife, Stacy Peterson is still missing and presumed dead. So, this morning, I'll do some minor updates and opinions on the above cases before moving on to some other things that have been in the local papers.

Casey Anthony; It's her birthday today. I'll bet she's really feeling the loss of her freedom today having to "celebrate" her birthday alone behind bars. On her menu for the day was a nice breakfast of a cup of oatmeal, gravy and potatoes and and a lovely dinner of smoked sausage, rice and mixed vegetable. Oh yeah, she might have either a cookie or a small piece of cake since that is what is already on the menu at the Orange County Jail. No partying at the Fusion Lounge or getting drunk with friends for her birthday this year. From what most of the news sources are saying, her family aren't even scheduled to visit her today. There are lots of rumors around the web about the "missing" pages of Casey's diary having been "found", including Nancy Grace mentioning it on her show last night. I haven't seen anything substantial in the way of confirmation of the existence of the missing pages yet. I'd love to see them and see if they, in any way, resemble the diary page that I posted about before.

Phil Spector; The main stream media still only occasionally report anything about the retrial. But, both the prosecution and the defense have rested and the closing arguments are scheduled for next week. This week, they are reportedly finalizing the jury instructions and going through the evidence, deciding what can go into the jury room and what can't. It's kind of ironic that the case will go to the jury next week. When the first trial got to the closings and the jury got the case, I was away from my computer for a month, driving my Mom and Stepdad up to the Seattle area and then back south visiting friends and family. This time, we have closings coming up and I'm going to be leaving on another trip, this time driving my Mom and Stepdad to Southern California. At least this time I will have a computer with me so I can keep checking in with news sites and blogs to see if a verdict has been reached. I hope that there will be cameras in the courtroom for the verdict!

Drew Peterson; He's been in the news again recently because his step-brother, Tom Morphey, has been speaking out about the day that Stacey disappeared. Tom Morphey says that Drew asked him "How much do you love me? Enough to kill for me?" Morphey is also talking about renting a storage locker for Drew and talkng more about helping Drew move that blue barrel from the bedroom of the Peterson home down to the back of Drew's SUV. Of course Drew is denying everything that Mr. Morphey is saying. Oh yeah... And Drew is planning a wedding for his 5th marriage. Ugh.. That woman is out of her mind!

Local News

One of the local stories that the area news media are making a "big deal' out of is the closure of a run-down trailer park in the county to the east of me, Yuba County. Apparently the owners of the park gave up on fixing all the problems in the park quite a while back, let it go into foreclosure, then went into bankruptcy over a year ago. The people still living in the park stopped paying rent a year ago, but stayed put. In other words, they've been living there for free for a year, only having to pay for their utilities. So when the county shut the place down yesterday the 11 or 12 families still living there began crying about how they have no place to live now and no way to move to another place. I understand about being "broke" and having a hard time getting into a new place to live, but for crying out loud, these people have been living there rent free for a year! I guess none of them thought about putting some of their rent money aside for the time that they would have to either start paying rent again or have to move into another home. So now, the tax payers get to foot the bill for these people who thought they could live there for free forever. The county is paying for hotel rooms for these people! The videos I've seen on TV and on websites show a really rundown trailer park, the common buildings are dilapidated, vandalized and dangerous looking, and the individual trailer lots look almost as bad. The county is planning on leveling the place. It needs it.


Another story in yesterday's local paper had me scratching my head and wondering "What the heck??". A man in the town of Arbuckle had a nasty habit of standing in his front window exposing and fondling himself every Wednesday for the last several weeks. The sheriff's department received quite a few complaints from neighbors but had never gotten proof of what the guy was doing. Finally, the sheriff's department stationed an undercover officer near the man's house yesterday. And yep, it was Wednesday. And yep, the officer saw the guy do his "thing" in front of his window. And yep, the guy is under arrest. No one has figured out why the guy only did his thing on Wednesdays. And the guy, Andrew Sweet, isn't answering any questions from the authorities... Weird!


In the South Pacific, a new island is being born near Tonga. Tonga is part of the ''ring of fire,” an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones in the Pacific. The Associated Press has a spectacular raw video of the eruption. Check it out:

I don't know about the rest of you, but volcanos fascinate me. They are spectacular and tangible proof to me that our Earth is still "alive".....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Update on the Highway 166 Accident & Yesterday's Rant

The investigators have released name of the truck driver who died in that horrible accident Friday night. The driver was identified as 27-year-old Ricardo Zamora of Bakersfield.Mr. Zamora died when his rig caught on fire. The authorities had to use dental records to identify the poor man. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

And the "impatient" idiot of a man who caused the tragedy passed away yesterday. A CHP spokesman says 41-year-old Wayne Delangie of Santa Maria passed away at Cottage Hospital in Santa Maria Sunday night. Delangie's family says he is an organ donor and that his body is being kept on life support until the organ donation process is complete.

So now there are two families who've lost someone due to the impatience of one man. One man who just had to get in front of a couple of trucks. One man who was in such a hurry to get where he was going that he did something incredibly stupid. He tried to pass those trucks on a right-hand curve with a double yellow line. He failed. Spectacularly. Tragically.

If any of my readers out there get out on the highway and end up behind a truck that is going slower than you, please don't get impatient and pass unsafely. I don't care how big of a hurry you think you are, wait for a safe area to pass. A passing lane. A long straight stretch of road with no oncoming traffic. Trucks go slower than cars by law. Especially here in California. The maximum a truck is allowed is 55 miles per hour. Even on the highways where cars are allowed to go faster, those trucks are not allowed to go faster than 55.

Be safe out there folks. I don't want to have to read more reports of tragic accidents caused by impatient drivers.

Source: KSBY Channel 6

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Rant about "Impatient Drivers"

Last year in May I posted a rant about impatient drivers (Look here for the post.) and this morning, I'm going to do it again. Yesterday morning, I read about a bad accident on highway 166 down near San Luis Obispo/Santa Maria involving two big rigs (according to the original article) that happened Friday evening. There weren't many details yesterday, but this morning the San Luis Obispo newspaper has another article on their web site about the accident which gives a lot more details. Another article on the KSBY Channel 6 web site gives even more. The accident was caused by an impatient driver trying to pass a couple of trucks.

hiway166accidentAccording to the articles, a man from Santa Maria (who's identity hasn't been disclosed) in a F-150 pickup crossed a double yellow line and attempted to pass two big rigs. When he pulled out into the opposing (westbound) lane, he sideswiped a Honda being driven by a woman from Bakersfield, then sideswiped another pickup truck (A Chevy) driven by a man from Bakersfield. He then hit another big rig head on. That rig went on into the eastbound lane and crashed into another big rig, causing it to roll over. Then both rigs caught on fire. The pickup then hit another eastbound big rig, then sideswiped another westbound car (A Saturn) driven by another woman from Bakersfield.

The driver of the rig that was hit head on died, either in the initial crash or in the fire. That driver could not be identified yet. The driver of the rig that rolled over luckily only suffered minor injuries. The woman in the Honda also suffered minor injuries and the man in the other pickup, the man in the 3rd big rig and the woman in the Saturn were truly lucky, they weren't injured at all. The impatient man is in the hospital with "major" injuries. The accident scene covered over 2,000 feet of the highway and the wreckage, cleanup and investigation had the highway closed for nearly a full day.

hiway166accident-F150One idiot who thought he was going to get where he was going just a little sooner by passing a couple trucks on a curve with double yellow lines didn't get where he was going that night. He got a trip to the hospital and probably will have a long convalescence from his injuries. He killed a man. He injured two other people. He wrecked 7 vehicles, including his own. (I think the photo to the left is the F150, or what's left of it.) His impatience and stupidity closed a highway for a day, causing other drivers to take long detours in order to get from one side of the coastal range to the other.

Amazingly, or maybe it's not that amazing, the first comment below the article in the San Luis Obispo paper blames the trucks for the accidents.

"croberts wrote on 03/07/2009 08:31:05 PM:

To repeat: As a regular 'user' of 166 I can say without hesitation that 166 is unsafe due to overuse by large truck/trailer combos. This should NOT be allowed as a 'truck-route', used by commercial and semi-tractor trailer rigs looking for the sort-cut to I-5/99. The combination of hills, curves, one-lane each way, bad passing areas, motor-homes, pickups towing trailers, U-Hauls, and autos driven by the unskilled and impatient result in deadly accidents. Add to the mix an obvious lack of law enforcement. (Never seen a Chippy)."

As I look at a Google map showing the highway this accident happened on, I see that Highway 166 isn't a "shortcut". I see that it is the most direct route between Santa Maria and Bakersfield. Perhaps this guy who wrote this comment is one of those guys who do stupid things to get around trucks? Blame it all on the trucks... Sheesh!

View Larger Map

San Luis Obispo Tribune
KSBY Channel 6 (Also has a video and more photos)
Original article about the crash; San Luis Obispo Tribune

Friday, March 6, 2009

Google Searches = Detective Work? Fun!

The end of this month, I'll be driving my Mom and Step-dad down to Southern California. We'll be spending a couple days in Death Valley, then heading for Barstow, the city my Step-dad grew up and then we'll go to Riverside to visit with family. My Step-dad expressed a wish to get in touch with some of the fellows he grew up with, so one evening last week I badgered him into giving me some names so I could try to find any information about them. He gave me three names. George H., Rex D. and Alfred W. (For privacy's sake, I'm not going to publish the men's full names.)

So, when I got home I started doing some Google searches on the three names. Naturally, the searches produced thousands of "hits" for the names. So I started narrowing the search parameters a bit by including the name of the city with the men's names. I got one good solid "hit" on one of the names! Rex D. had been one of the "pioneers" of the Fire Department in that city (back when it wasn't even a real city!) and his name appeared on the history page on the Fire Department's web page. I saved the page to a word document with Rex D.'s name highlighted and emailed it to my Step-dad so that he could read it. The other two men's names still brought up too many entries. So, I thought about trying to find the web site for the high school that my Step-dad and his buddies attended. Unfortunately, I found one of the names on a memorial page, George H.. He passed away in May of last year.

So, one down and two to go. I looked up the phone number for the Fire Department and gave them a call. I explained to the woman who answered my phone what I was trying to do. I wanted to get in contact with Rex D. and was hoping that someone there at the Fire Department would know him. I left my name and phone number with her so she could ask around and pass the information along that my Step-dad was going to be in town and would very much like to get in touch.

Days passed and I didn't hear anything from Rex D. and I started thinking about it. This man wouldn't know who the heck I am! Why didn't I leave my Step-dad's number? lol.. One of those "Doh!" moments, I guess. So, I called the Fire Department again on Tuesday and spoke to the same woman. I gave her my Step-dad's phone number to add to the message to Rex D., if and when someone could contact him. Yesterday, my Step-dad got a phone call from Rex! We'll be meeting up with him once we get there... My Step-dad is really happy that he'll be able to reminisce with his childhood friend.

Rex also gave us some information about the third fellow, Alfred W. He apparently is living in North West Washington... Oddly enough, he lives in the same town as my great-aunt! Last night, I did a little more googling and came up with a phone number for Alfred. My Step-dad has the number now. I'm not sure what he's going to do with it... Perhaps wait until he meets up with Rex.

When we get together with Rex, I'm going to ask him and my Step-dad if they were involved in an incident that I stumbled upon while searching for information on the three men's names.. It seems that out in the Southern California desert there are a number of extinct volcanoes. Apparently one of them, the Pisgah Crater, is fairly near Barstow. The story is that the kids from the high school spent months hauling trash and burnable stuff out to the crater. Tires, old lumber, creosoted railroad ties and lots of other stuff. Then after building a huge mound of stuff, they lit the pile of junk on fire. Apparently the smoke column rising from the crater alarmed enough people that they shut down the highway (Highway 66) that runs near the crater, stopped the trains from coming past the crater and even evacuated the town! The hoax was exposed when the Los Angeles Times hired a pilot and plane to take a reporter and a photographer out to fly around the crater and the burning pile of junk was discovered. Hmm.. Maybe I'll print out that story and slide it across the table to my Step-dad and his childhood chum and see what their reactions are. lol...

It was fun tracking down my Step-dad's childhood buddies. And what made it best was the fact that I had located them and that we'll be meeting up with one of them in a few weeks. I'll be taking this laptop with me on the trip and I'll try to post some photos and travel stuff whenever I can get an Internet connection. This trip (and others like it in the future) is one of the big reasons I bought the laptop. I won't be so completely out of touch while traveling like I was when we've done the other excursions we've taken. Plus, I've loaded some of my Step-dad's favorite games on here and my Mom and I can leave him with the games and go window shopping or whatever... lol