Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Grouch is on vacation!

So, the Grouch and the Missus and young son are on vacation in the 'burgh.  For those in the know you know where we are.  The rest of you can look it up.  Young son and I traveled to State College to attend my youngest sister's wedding to a very nice guy.  The Missus would have gone too but being a teacher she was obliged to stay through the end of the week for the last day of school.  She traveled two days after us and we met here in the 'burgh.  The wedding was great and it was fun seeing my siblings, nieces and nephews and their kids and meeting the relations from the new side of the family.  Older (chronologically speaking) daughter and our granddaughter little ladybug met us at S.C. and then we semi-convoyed back to our temporary home station.  We both got caught in an humongous traffic jam of Taylor Swift fans who were going to the ballpark for a concert and totally plugged up the freeway.  After sitting for about an hour and inching past a route that would have taken us around the jam it suddenly dawned on me that all I had to do was tell the GPS to take an alternate route, get off and it would plot the trip for me.  Duh!   8 minutes later we were past the jam and flying to the in-laws who are graciously putting us all up for the week.  Yay!   The front part of the convoy had left us about two hours before because I drive too slowly (only 8 MPH over the speed limit) and beat us home but not by much!

Older brother gave me pictures from the greatest vacation ever that I referenced in a previous post and I will show them when I am back in town.  I am in most looking like an obnoxious five year old which I undoubtedly was.

By the way, any thieves, bandits, highwaymen, or road agents planning to plunder Grouch estates whilst we are gone:  Older son is home, is a combat vet, and is heavily armed.  Good luck.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A summer vacation many years ago

So I was walking over to the train station today to pick up the whale that I left there yesterday morning when I took the train to work.  I drove home from work yesterday evening in the Stratus because I have drill this weekend and a 120 mile round trip is best done in a 26 mpg vehicle with an automatic transmission for the inevitable stop and go return traffic rather than in the dauntless Jeep that gets 20 at the best and 15 in traffic.  So anyway I was walking to the station and reflecting on a summer vacation that my family took many years ago.  I don't know where we went or how old I was (probably less than 10) but it has stuck with me forever.  We stayed in a neighbor's vacation cabin that was near a small river.  A train line ran behind our cabin and others all in a row. A train bridge crossed the river (probably more like a wide creek) and my mother warned all of us kids to stay off the bridge because a train could come when we were on it and we would be hit and killed.  Some teenagers were supposedly on the bridge and all killed when the train came.  Of course we went straight to the bridge and discussed whether we would jump into the water if the train came or try to run to the end and jump out of the way.  A man came along the track each morning on one of those hand cars that you see in silent movies - the kind that you move along by pumping the lever up and down.  He would deliver stuff to the people in the cabins; milk and newspapers and the like.  I don't think we ever got anything though.  Once a day the train would go by, moving slowly and the train crew would wave to me.  I think it was a steam locomotive but who knows for sure with so much time passing.  It was a intensely exciting time for me as a small boy and I loved every minute of it but I think I was the only one who did because we never went back.  It is funny what sticks in a person's mind.  I'm sure we did things on that trip that I do not remember but the sight of the man on the handcar and the train slowly trundling by with the engineer waving to me will be with me forever.  My parents gave me a gift that summer that I have treasured for over 50 years.

Added on Monday:  My brother (who is not a grouch like me) emailed to tell me that the vacation I remember happened in 1959.  I was five years old!  He also remembers the train and the hand car.  How about that!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A play, the Mojave bird farm, the Dutch Cleanser Mine, Burro Schmidt, and more

Last Saturday the missus, young son and I saw the musical version of "Footloose" at the local community theater.  I'm generally suspicious of musicals made from movies - it seems kind of backwards since movies come from musicals usually but in this case it worked.  Before and during intermission 80s music videos played on a screen onstage and some of the songs used in the production were 80s favorites.  I liked the number performed to "Holding on for a Hero" that featured Indiana Jones, Mr. Clean, Superman, and Underdog.  I mean what could be better than that?  The cast was talented and really seemed to be enjoying themselves.  For once the theater was sold out which had to be gratifying for the cast.  I had a great time and so did everyone else.
These are aircraft parked for sale or scrapping at the Mojave airport

On Sunday I set off for the Mojave desert for a bit of exploring with some friends.  The weather was gorgeous, in the 70s, sunny, and breezy.  We saw some sights, did some off roading and had a great time.  If you click on the pictures you'll get a larger view!

A wind farm near Mojave.  When you are close to the turbines you can feel a low frequency sound almost more than you can hear it.  it sounds like an ocean freighter's engines in the distance.

This is the Dutch Cleanser mine where the stuff was dug out to use in the cleanser of the same name.  The cliff is made of a talc like mineral.  The floor and walls felt hollow when knocked on.  The mine was active until the '20s.

The intrepid convoy

The group contemplating the Burro Schmidt tunnel

Everything you need to know about the tunnel.  Yes we walked through it and found a colony of very large rats in the tunnel.  Why they chose to live there is a question although I guess every mine needs some rats in it.  The tunnel comes out on the other side of the ridge and give a spectacular view of the Mojave.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Starry night

I have some updates from the past weekend to blog about but no time tonight.  So instead I will give you this video to watch.  I loved it.