Friday, September 28, 2007

Come Fly the Unfriendly Skies

OK, so airfares haven't risen much in the US and airlines are scrambling to cut costs wherever they can: forget the meals, no more complimentary cocktails once you hit international skies, goodbye to the cleaning crew and if you want a smile...wait, isn't friendly free?

Unfriendly doesn't begin to describe the service on a US Airways flight I took from JFK to Paris. It was a night flight, and thankfully empty enough to sequester a few seats for sleeping - if you could find a few that were clean enough. My designated seat was covered with a large piece of melted chocolate. Like I said, the flight was fairly empty so I moved myself into something a little cleaner and tried to get comfortable in a space that would challenge even a hamster. Ok, this meant putting a foot up on the tray table (not cool) but does that give the flight attendant the right to smack my arm, demand that I put my feet down, and when I didn't immediately comply, he threatened to call the air marshal and send the plane back to JFK. As Spalding Gray once said, 'Once the wheels go up, we're all hostages.' Anyway, I guess you get what you pay for, but I’d say I went a little too discount with this airlines. Luckily my morning was greeted with a view a Paris and the opportunity to deplane.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Getting Back on the Horse

Oh my - don’t horses look so beautiful and calm. Not necessarily so. In fact, last month my friend offer me a ride on her horse, the one she rents at Tennessee Valley Stables in Mill Valley, CA. The peaceful-gentle looking horse decided, once I got up on him, that it was time to head back to the barn and without me on board.

I later learned, after being thrown from the horse, that most horses look forward to getting back to the barn. I also learned that the horses can detect a novice rider.

So the story goes that moments after I climbed up on the horse, he starts galloping back through narrow mountain foot trails. I heard my friend yelling: “Pull back on the reigns, pull back on the reigns!” After that, I was on the ground. Luckily nothing was hurt or broken.

The moral of the story, I’m getting back on the horse.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Highway 50: Finding Adventure on Americas Loneliest Road

In July of 1986 Life Magazine wrote a negative article about Highway 50 in Nevada, a road that stretches from Ely(on the Utah border) to Fernly (close to Reno), entitled, “The Loneliest Road” warning motorists to not even bother going there. In response, Nevada tourism decided to make lemonade out of lemons, and coined the phrase “The Loneliest Road in America”. They also created “The Hwy 50 Survival Guide”, a 16-page document taking you from Fernley to Great Basin, Nevada.

So, to test ourselves in the face of loneliness, we decided take the tour in our VW Vanagan. The 287 miles making up the loneliest part of Highway 50, is composed of a two lane road that cuts right through the center of Nevada. And it's true, you can drive for hours without seeing another car or even any sign of civilization. Here’s what we did find:

An isolated hot spring (Spencer) inhabited only by a nomadic man named Karl known for traveling the country in his housecar (like a houseboat). A strangely beautiful spot with free camping.

A lonely town called Ely

The living ghost town of Austin, NV

Empty stretches of sky and highway

A lonely group of Bristlecone Pines, at Great Basin National Park

A lonely tour of Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park (actually,
not that lonely but instead, rather crowded but we were trying to keep the theme going).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Visit Ancient Trees in the Bristlecone Pine Forest

If you are an avid hiker and tree hugger don’t miss an opportunity to explore the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest located at an elevation of 10,000 feet, on the eastern side of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Why visit? Bristlecone Trees are the oldest living trees on Earth, and a specimen Bristlecone named, Methusela, is recognized as being the oldest living tree in the world at over 4,600 years old.

Take a visit in September, which offers cooler weather and a peaceful traveling experience. However, late September can bring a little snow at higher elevations so be prepared. How to get there: take hwy 168 east from highway 395. The ancient bristlecone pines are located in the Inyo National Forest and the road into the Bristlecone Pine Forest is usually open from mid-May through sometime in November.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Attention Female Shopaholics

Over the Labor Day weekend we joined our friends at their barbeque, and to get to the point of the story, one of the guests did what we were all doing: writing whatever she felt on the paper table cloth. But, what struck me, was this one woman’s great enthusiasm, who after writing her choice words laughed, “viral marketing.” I asked her what her site was about and she replied an e-commerce site.

So over the weekend I proceeded to check out her written word, which was Wow, I thought, this is really something. Now, I find myself checking this website daily to see if there is something I need to buy.

To give you a nugget from their website, here it is:

What is it that you love about shopping? The thrill of discovery? Getting something special at a discount? The satisfaction of treating yourself to a small indulgence? is an every day shopping adventure dedicated to putting the joy back in shopping. We cut through the retail clutter and bring a highly edited and ever-changing showcase of products that are insanely useful, a fantastic value, or just downright fabulous.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Scorpion Control - Part Two

Since late spring I've found 4 scorpions in and around the basement of our house - two dead and two alive so I've decided to move forward with my earlier suggestions on scorpion control (7/26/07). First, all the cracks that could allow entry into the house are getting caulked. Second, I'm spreading aromatic cedar chips around the basement to repel the scorpions, especially around the air vents. And last, the posse of spiders that make their home in our basement (new clans arrive daily when previous tenants are vacuumed up) are being removed on a more frequent basis. I've also read that there are fairly benign pest control products that can be sprayed indoors to help mitigate the scorpion problem.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fun at the Drive-In

As a kid my parents took us to a few drive-in movies: I have a vague memory sitting in the back seat of my parents then 1962 VW Bug. That was a fun memory, although I can’t remember anything about it, except that it was summer time and that my parents thought this was a fun adventure, too.

Fast forward plenty of years - where have all the drive-ins gone? I'm happy to say I've found one: Lakeport Auto Movies. I can also say now, with full memory intact, that it is really is fun watching movies outside on a hot summer's night.

We arrived at the outdoor screen 15 minutes late; the movie started at 8:15pm, making it a bit difficult to scope out the best spot (because, if you arrive late there’s a no headlight rule once you buy your ticket and enter). Fortunately we managed to carve out the perfect space between 2 other vehicles, set the radio to the prescribed fm station for sound (no speakers hanging on the window anymore) and dive into the snacks. And, just before turning my focus to the movie, I caught sight of a shooting star.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Social Etiquette

I was amazed to learn that there’s a whole world of social etiquette for IM, (instant messaging) text messaging and sending email. But before learn it you have to enter a world where a) you actually care to learn it, and, b) you have someone to use it with.

To give you an example: LOL, is an abbreviation for Laugh Out Loud. Now that makes sense. But here are some abbreviations which border on mind numbing. Ready? OK see if you know what these abbreviations stand for: ILYBYFIWH, DTMITY, IHACBOH and YMMFS.

Do you know?
ILYBYFIWH is: I Like You But Your Friend Is Way Hotter
DTMITY is: Don’t Text Me, I’ll Text You
IHACBOH is: I Have A Clean Bill Of Health
YMMFS is: You Make My Fingers Sweat.

Easy abbreviations to remember: BRB (Be Right Back); JK (Just Kidding) and GA (Go Away)!!

But really, for anyone keeping up on this stuff, I say: STBY (Sucks To Be You).

To learn more on the New Social Etiquette visit: