Archive for March, 2005

Last Day

March 31, 2005

We checked into the Madonna Inn about an hour ago. Yes, this place is indeed as fabulously tacky as rumored. Home tomorrow.

This place comes with free wi-fi, but it’s rather sporadic. Perhaps it’s the cave room we’re in.

Meanwhile… some more pics!

Here is the world-famous 100-year bloom in Death Valley. We heard later that it was already about 70 percent gone by the time we arrived.

Here’s a shot of “Scotty’s Castle,” which of course did not belong to Walter Scott at all.

This is the Ubehebe Crater. No, you don’t get the heebie-jeebies when you go there, unless you are afraid of heights.

I scored several pictures of the elusive desert five-spot:

And here’s the cactus that bit Kerry:

How low can you go?

That lopsided red circle in the middle of the picture shows where the “sea level” sign is. Really. Honest.

Here’s where we got our feet and legs covered with salt.

And here’s how we cleaned up:

Fast forward a day. This morning we visited the feline rescue and breeding center. Here’s Kerry’s favorite, an ill-tempered Eurasian lynx. It’s too bad you can’t see the tufts on top of the ears.

And here’s my favorite, a bobcat named Willow:

Quick… cover the children’s eyes. I did say this was a rare feline breeding center, didn’t I?

Onward to the Antelope Valley, where goldfields and poppies proliferate.

And a bunch of Joshua trees a little further west.

Well… I have finally had to resort to dial-up because this wi-fi connection has been so sporadic. It’s almost time for “The Apprentice,” so ta-ta for now, folks!

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She Made Me Do It

March 30, 2005

The things we do for friendship…. Kerry dragged my pinkytoe out of bed at 6 this morning, and by 8 o’clock I was sitting precariously on a horse named Bandit. Two dusty hours later, the wrangler had to help me down because I couldn’t move my legs, and I landed on the ground like a sack of potatoes. Actually, Bandit responded very well to my minimal commands, except when he was trying to eat wildflowers and I had to show him who was boss.

After we washed off the trail dust and checked out of the hotel (at Furnace Creek in Death Valley) we drove out to Badwater and Kerry insisted we go wading. There’s a sign waaaay up on the cliff that marks sea level. Then came the problem of washing the caked salt off of our legs and feet. We wound up back at the Furnace Creek service station, where I bought half a tank at (gulp) $2.99 a gallon, and we cleaned up in the restroom. Kerry took pictures of me sitting on the counter with my feet in the sink.

So we didn’t get out of Death Valley until about 2 o’clock, and rolled into Mojave by about 6. I didn’t blog from Death Valley because (a) all outgoing phone calls started at a dollar each, and (b) it was prominently stated in the guest information that “most” online access numbers are blocked because of limited trunk space. You can bet “most” includes AOL, which I am using for dial-up during this trip. And you can bet there wasn’t wi-fi either, so I didn’t even get the computer out.

We had a great time in DV. It wasn’t too hot, Scotty’s Castle was a lot of fun (the rangers give the tour in “living history” format) and the wildflowers are –well, not quite what we’d been led to expect, but as the horse wrangler this morning put it, to the usual DV denizens, they are amazing, but to those of us who are used to fields of lupines and poppies as far as the eye can see, well, ho hum. I did get some pictures, but I’m too tired right now to mess with them.

Tomorrow we plan to visit the feline conservation center in Rosamond, which is not far from Mojave, and then make a break for the coast. We spend our last night on the road tomorrow at the famous Madonna Inn.

There will be more pictures to follow–but not tonight. 🙂

Today’s Installment

March 27, 2005

Just in case one was unsure of the direction of one of the area landmarks:

Here’s a slightly closer shot of that landmark:

(In case any of you flatlanders were wondering… Mount Whitney is the tallest point in the lower 48.)

Seems horses are much friendlier to Kerry than cows….

So friendly, they can even hold an intimate conversation.

Gremmie got to pet a pretty horsie too.

That’s not a smile on my face… that’s a grimace of pain! That water was COLD!

What on earth do you suppose Kerry’s planning to do with that hat?

Now this is a Muppy Moment if ever there was one….

Gremmie stalks the wild flower….

I axe ya… could anybody but a best friend get away with photographing one’s fat pinkytoe???

Just a couple of goofy gals on vacation….

Onward to Death Valley tomorrow!

Oh My Gawsh…

March 27, 2005

… the young-uns in Florida are getting hitched!

Get on over there and say congratchamalations to the kids!

That’s Pathetic

March 27, 2005

This morning we read online that Michael Schiavo had refused to let Terri have communion on this most holy day of the Catholic calendar.

This afternoon Kerry came up with the probable reason why. If he allowed it, he would be acknowledging that there’s a real person still alive in there.

How sad.

There has to be a reason this is happening. I wonder if we’ll ever know it.

Update: The latest news indicates that Terri was given communion after all. Yesterday, she wasn’t to be allowed it. Today, her alleged excuse for a husband changed his mind.

The Further Adventures Of Muppy And Gremmie

March 27, 2005

I guess the laptop just wanted a good night’s sleep. Bright and early this morning, Photoshop is cooperating.

Here’s Muppy (Kerry) with the disinterested cow:

And here’s Gremmie (that would be none other than CrankyBeach) doing her “look, ma, no hands!” trick. Yes, the car was moving at the time (but not 120 mph, thank you):

(Just a suggestion for all you flatlanders: Do not try this at home!)

Well, well, what do you know… I did catch that elusive butterfly after all!

Here’s the part where we were looking down on snow-capped peaks:

And here’s a wildflower or two, just to whet that appetite:

Don’t ask me the names of either of those little prizes. The pinkish-purplish one might be some sort of linanthus, but that is as far as I am willing to go. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Today’s agenda? We’re making it up as we go along. Muppy, bless her heart, is very tired and stiff from riding in the car for hours and hours for 3 days in a row. So perhaps today we’ll take it easy and just take a nice long walk somewhere, and then spend some more time in that 24-hour hot tub.

My stomach is telling me it’s long past time for breakfast, so ta-ta for now!

I Went 120 Today

March 26, 2005

Well, wouldn’t YOU want to see what your Lexus could do with a perfectly straight stretch of road in front of you with no traffic? Actually, the speedometer goes up to 145, but 120 was all I could get out of it. We were, after all, at about 6000 feet in elevation at the time, and this car seems to balk just a bit at high altitude. Besides, the road was kind of oompa-loompey, I was going straight down the middle, and 120 is really, REALLY fast, so as soon as I got there, I decided that was enough. I took my foot off the gas because I was getting nervous. Okay, I’m a wimp. I admit it.

So how did I come to be doing 120 on a road with no traffic? Well, we left Bishop a little before 11 o’clock, and our next stop was only an hour or so away. We really didn’t have any plans–until I saw the sign for the road to the ancient bristlecone pine forest. Let’s go there, I said, and turned east.

Well, the ancient forest is still closed for the season, but we did get very high up in the mountains, around 8000 feet. We were looking down on snow-capped peaks at one point. But this highway that goes east nearly to Nevada has a couple of very long straight stretches across high desert, and this was where I did my speeding.

Eventually we turned around and headed back west toward highway 395. We stopped along the way for a few wildflowers and chased some butterflies, trying to catch them with the zoom lens. Kerry wanted her picture taken with a cow, but the cow would not cooperate and waddled away from her. I was going to post a picture of this momentous event but at the moment, Photoshop is not cooperating, so I can’t.

After our extended adventure down the side road, we finally pulled into Lone Pine about 4:30. We found our motel without incident (not hard to do, when everything is on the main drag) and got checked in. All the buzz around town is the massive influx of wildflower-seekers headed for Death Valley. Apparently there’s not a vacant motel room to be found for a hundred-mile radius. And to think we planned our trip before anyone knew this would be the best wildflower show in 100 years, and made all our reservations before the rush!

After a quick sandwich at the coffee shop next door, we put on our swimsuits and headed for the hot tub. We talked for a long time with a very nice young couple from San Diego who come this way for the fishing. I suppose we’ll see them tomorrow night in the hot tub again.

We have no set plans for tomorrow. We have two nights here in Lone Pine, so we might just be lazy tomorrow. Why not? After all, we’re on vacation!

Huh?

March 26, 2005

A news headline today on Yahoo:

NYC recalls error-filled math study guides

Now I have not bothered to click through and read the story (yet), but two obvious questions come to mind:

1) Whoinell wrote these error-filled math study guides? Did they not think to hire (duh) math experts who might not make errors in the first place to write them?

2) Howinell did these error-filled study guides make it past whatever might pass for quality control?

Sheeesh.

Someone Should Write Their Story

March 26, 2005

The two old geezers from the Jacuzzi last night, that is.

They are two of nine guys from Billings who were all best friends and graduated from high school together. They all married girls 5 years younger from the Catholic school. Most of them served in the military together. And after more than 40 years, one man’s wife died of cancer and one of the men was killed when his racing bike went off the road–but other than that, everyone is still married. There have been no divorces, they all still live in Billings, and they are all STILL best friends. When we suggested that this is truly amazing, they just kind of shrugged.

And people ask writers where we get our ideas….

Oh, And By The Way…

March 25, 2005

… my letter to the editor was published the day I left town. Here is the text:

The front page of Wednesday’s Herald has the latest article about last-ditch efforts to save Terri Schiavo’s life, and how she is being starved to death with the full blessings of the legal system. All of the Wednesday letters favor allowing Terri Schiavo to die by starvation. In the writers’ opinions, it seems the humane and compassionate thing to do.

The top story in the local section of Wednesday’s Herald concerns the people who are on trial for felony abuse. Their alleged crime? Allowing a disabled relative to starve to death.

Is this what they call a cognitive dissonance? Just curious.

And for once they didn’t change my wording at all. 😉