Sunday, November 15, 2020

Spontaneous trip to L.A. last week puts Great Bridge outside hotel window

I drove west on I-10 Thursday morning hoping to see Los Angeles again soon and very soon. Using Priceline.com's Express Deals, I was given a hotel in San Pedro with quite a lovely sight out my window. I can literally pull from the hotel parking lot and drive onto that beautiful piece of engineering that spans the Port of Los Angeles within a minute or so. You'll probably remember that bridge from a previous post on this blog.

As the sun went down over the mountains somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona, I was reminded of that song from back in the day by The Orb, detailing the incredible beauty of clouds in the the desert sky. The sky actually does change colors out there in the desert in ways I don't often notice elsewhere. This photo was taken after many hours of driving, while fighting off a strange combination of weariness and jitters from way too much caffeine consumed during the day. A nap at a rest stop soon followed.

Once in California, General Patton greeted me at the summit. His museum sits at the top of a hill, nestled with a coffee shop, numerous tanks, and several pumps providing travelers with expensive gasoline. I recently saw the movie Patton again and marveled at how a man so famous for pissing off just about everyone every time he opened his mouth became lauded as a military hero. I loved when he shot those two jackasses because they were in his way and then ordered his troops to throw the dead animals off a bridge. True warrior.

Early morning drama at the gas station. I never actually figured out what was going on yesterday morning at the convenience store across the street, but plenty of San Pedro's finest showed up to sort the issue out. I've seen lots of police officers this past weekend out and about patrolling the neighborhood.

Having recently viewed a Youtube video on the history of Echo Park Lake, I decided to stop by and see the place on the way out to Hollywood Boulevard yesterday morning. This is a somewhat historic body of water in L.A. that has apparently been featured in numerous movies over the years, most notably the 1974 Jack Nicholson film Chinatown. I thought it might be cool to get on board one of those swan pedal boats and take some photos like Jack, but they appeared unavailable for use when I arrived.

It's difficult to share the experience without mentioning the homeless folks that have created a relatively large waterfront community along one side of the lake. While in one regard this is obviously a sad display of people at a very low point in their lives, there is also something strangely heartening about how some have decided to make this more than just your run-of-the-mill tent camp, using creativity and even a sense of humor in how they've constructed and decorated what we all hope is a temporary stop for them on the way to much better days.

Good morning, Gertie. From Echo Park, I headed off to Hollywood Boulevard, a stop I frequently like to make when in L.A. The street was strangely empty comparatively speaking, with many of the establishments still closed due to COVID-19. No Spider Man, as far as I could tell. No Edward Scissorhands. No Wonder Woman. Just the bearded guy from The Hangover with a baby strapped around his neck, waving at folks wandering past him on the corner. Memorabilia shops were open here and there, but for the most part Hollywood appears to be waiting out the virus like everyone else.

While Hollywood seemed relatively quiet, I did have an opportunity to photograph a celebrity dog. How do I know this dog is a celebrity? The guy who took off his leash and set him on the pavement for photos told us so. The dog looks like a celebrity, so I didn't question the guy. Several people on the street, including myself, stopped for a minute or so to take photos. I hope to see him in some feature films.

I finished up on Hollywood Boulevard around 11 a.m., much too early to call it a day. I decided to take the advice of the old Steely Dan song and drive west on Sunset to the sea. A very interesting drive that takes you past the Sunset Strip, through exclusive L.A. neighborhoods like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, and then winding in the hills to the sparkling Pacific Ocean. For someone like me who has lived on or near I-10 for most of his life in both Houston and San Antonio, it's great to see where that particular train runs out of track, so to speak.

I'll likely hang out here a couple more days before heading back east on that same stretch of road.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Cooling temps prompt an overnight trip to Enchanted Rock outside Fredericksburg

I took a short trek toward the Fredericksburg area earlier this week to check out Enchanted Rock. When researching possible camping spots around the Texas Hill Country, this place always seems to come up in the discussion.

And rightly so. A very unique outcrop of rock that sits in the middle of central Texas, surrounded by lots of wildlife and the natural beauty of the outdoors. There are several trails available to hike with varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

I chose the Summit Trail, which puts you right on top of the giant rock.

Your vantage point up there is spectacular, with a 360-degree view of the Texas landscape as far as the eye can see. I reached the top, took a few moments to look around a bit, and then headed back down to the camping area.

I picked site 23 of the walk-in camping area without ever having seen the place other than photos, and I was happy with the location. Plently of shade overhead all around the the campsite, with a fire pit and picnic table just to the right of my chair. I sat in that chair for hours as the sun went down and watched my campfire after dinner.

Thanks to several Youtube instructional videos, I found lighting and maintaining the fire easy and exhilerating. They sell bundles of wood for $6 at the gift shop, but I located plently of extra wood all around the site.

I chilled out until the fire was nothing but embers, and then retired to my tent to curl up in a sleeping bag because it sure does get chilly out there late at night. Bring extra blankets!

The temperature outside was finally cool enough for me to book an evening like this. The comfortable months in Texas are finally upon us. Camping is a good experience, but going alone isn't the best. If you've never been, you should plan a trip to Enchanted Rock. Schedule with the website ahead of time, as the campsites fill up several weeks in advance on weekends. I found booking an evening during the week quite easy. I'll likely meander that way for another visit someday.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Renewed passport arrived in mail, waiting out COVID-19 to make overseas plans

My expired passport is expired no more, and I'm looking forward to planning an oversea excursion in the not too distant future.

Hopefully. I had initially planned on doing some traveling on or around my birthday this year, but I really want to wait until the world isn't grappling with COVID-19 before spending the money on an airline ticket and hotel.

I don't want to drop a chunk of change to fly anywhere for pleasure when masks are still a requirement in public spaces, or there might even be another lockdown required due to further spread of the virus.

I had previously been looking at Sydney, having had a great time in Australia my first time around. Some potential spots in Europe seem exciting as well. I'll keep you updated here once I've decided and set the time and place.

Hopefully a vaccine will receive approval sometime next year and we can go back to life as usual.

A new podcast is likely coming soon. Keep an eye on my Twitter for the announcement.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Grand Canyon in Arizona is as spectacular as you've always heard

I drove from San Antonio yesterday morning around 7 a.m. and followed Google Maps instructions to arrive to at the Grand Canyon in Arizona early this morning.

I stopped for about three hours of sleep at an I-40 rest stop late last night and completed the trip to Grand Canyon National Park shortly after sunrise today.

That's just under 16 hours of driving time, plus any stops made for gas, bathroom breaks or meals along the way.

I shot some short videos on my phone that I may piece together and post on YouTube when I get back to San Antonio, if that is something y'all have interest in seeing.

The Grand Canyon is always described using superlatives that I will cease from repeating much here, but needless to say those descriptions are apt. It was well worth the drive to get here yesterday and finally see the place, and you should do the same sometime in your life if you haven't already.

One thing I found fascinating was how much of the canyon is free of guard rails or any sort of protection from missteps or loss of balance. You can literally fall into that thing if you're not careful. And I understand from some information online that every year people actually do.

But let's not focus on that. That's horrible. Let's focus on the vast majority of the people that visit each year and leave as healthy and uninjured as they arrived. As I did.

I found the Grand Canyon spectacular in its immensity and scenic beauty. I think you will as well.

I might stop by the meteor crater on I-40 on the way back to Texas, and I look forward to driving through Roswell, New Mexico, again as I did yesterday. I don't know about you, but I think it's just about time we found out for sure if that was a spaceship that crashed out there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

'Kubrick Remembered' best documentary I've seen on legendary filmmaker's life and career

If you're a fan of classic movies and looking for something to do while cooped up in the house today, I highly recommend the documentary "Kubrick Remembered."

I'm not sure how I missed this previously, but I'm glad I finally streamed it last night after the film showed up as a recommended video on my Roku's YouTube app. You can currently stream the film free on YouTube.

The documentary not only features recollections from actors, friends and colleagues about his life's work, but also a great glimpse into his family and home life.

His wife of 42 years, Christiane, is prominently featured and portrays Kubrick as a man as strongly dedicated to his wife and children as he was to his art.

A fascinating look at his life that you should put on your "must see" list if you are a fan of his movies.