Cowboys and Horses

IMG_20150405_171905011Moab, Utah is known for its many trails, whether motorized, bicycled or hiked. The views are spectacular, red rocks as far as the eye can see. Two National Parks are designated there, Arches and Canyons, both offer extraordinary scenery.

One of the places we’ve never taken in is Dead Horse Point, we took a drive up there on Easter Sunday to see the views it has to offer. Dead Horse Point is a Utah State Park, entry fee is $10 without a State Park pass. It is high on the mountain overlooking the curve of the Colorado River. The views are expansive.

There are many trails, including a paved walking path that gives you 270 degree views of the area off the Point. The vantage points you can gain from this view are tremendous.

The park is named Dead Horse Point for a legend that exists from the Old West. It is rumored that during a roundup of wild horses, the horses were corralled at the end of the peninsula, and then the land bridge was blocked off. Since the only escape was a 2000 foot drop over the embankment, when the cowboys didn’t return to claim their horses after the roundup, the horses starved to death. No one knows why the cowboys didn’t return.
Dead Horse Point State Park should be added to your list of Moab destinations.

If you just need an easy getaway, without the stress of trail riding, and without the crowds, it is worth the trek up the mountain to the park. Bring your walking shoes and your camera to get the most out of your visit.

Back on the Road 2015

Over four years ago, I started this blog, with the goal of sharing what we see in the world.  Let me reintroduce myself for those who recognized that I’ve been missing for a long time.

We live on the road.  I don’t mean that we travel a lot, I mean we literally live on the road, travelling from location to location, on mostly a weekly basis.  Most RV’rs travel from park to park, but they stay awhile, we don’t have that luxury, we have places we have to be.  We also aren’t typical RV’rs because we still work, in fact, it is our work that keeps us moving.

Our goal as we travel is to seek out the best there is to offer in any location.  Sometimes it is while we are vacationing, other times, it is just another port of call.

This last week was a great example, we were in Attica, Indiana.  It is a small, idyllic community with lots of green grass, old growth trees, and right now, water.  The Wabash is over the banks, in fact, the other day, you could practically fish from the McDonald’s parking lot, and it is a half mile away from the river.  There isn’t much to do in Attica, but the people are awesome.

Some things we do everywhere we go, they are necessities of life.  I visit the local library for wifi, do our laundry at the local Laundromat, shop in the local grocery store, mail from the local post office, eat in the local restaurants.  This week, I even got my haircut at a local salon.  Not much else to offer here in Attica.  But just down the road is a little gem that we recommend to everyone.

In Covington, Indiana, just off the 74, at exit 6 is a restaurant called The Beef House (16501 North S.R. 63).  It isn’t small, it isn’t quiet, but it is homemade and delicious.  Several times a year, they run a dinner theater, the restaurant is big and efficient, the food is fresh.

How do I know?  First, the place is always busy, so the turnover in food happens fast.  Second, you can see right in to the kitchen as you wait in line for a table or visit the salad bar.  Third, and I think most important, the cuts of meat are displayed in the front case, you see the cooks come by and select what they are cooking next.beef house rolls

The beef is good, the salad bar is fresh and plentiful, and the rolls and desserts are well known.  The waitresses practically push the rolls on you, always offering more and more, to the point that almost everyone leaves with a bag.  They are that good.  I did my best to confine my selection to two, and even with that, I was over full when we left.  The food is well worth a visit.

We have a lot of friends who visit Indiana through the year, The Beef House is always on the recommended stop list, you should add it to yours.  Photos courtesy of The Beef House.

(update:  we had posted we were going to the restaurant on FB, some friends saw that and just came by to tell me what a great meal they had, said they had been coming to the area for 15 years and never knew about, now they know.  I love when we can make an impact like that!)

On the Road Series: Pike’s Peak, Colorado

Looming over the top of Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak – one of Colorado’s famed Fourteeners, it is paved to the top.  A bit commercial, there is a railroad, famous donuts that aren’t supposed to be able to be made at that elevation and a race.  What you won’t find is ….me.  Elevations like that kick my ass.

Josh and Big made the trek up the mountain, not a surprise, they love anything to do with racecars.  Many of our friends and acquaintances race Pikes Peak, up the twisties to the top – it’s all paved now, but that is a recent development.

The record to the top is 8 minutes and 13 seconds.  From mm 1 to mm12, the elevation climb is 4720 feet.  The cars have to reach over 100 on some of the short straightaways to do that.  Big said he drove it in low gear, somewhere around 15 mph mostly.

Video is by my buddy, Devon AfroThunder

On the way down, the National Forest Service rangers stop you at one point to review the temperature of your brakes – too hot and you get to sit awhile.  Makes sense to me, so many don’t know how to drive mountain roads.

Pikes Peak is named for the famous Zebulon Pike, explorer of many lands.  I would have loved to have gone on the trek up the mountain, but this is one limitation I have finally come to grips with.  Anything over 10,000 feet makes me feel icky – I start to feel it between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, but only if I exert myself, by 10, I only have to try to breathe to know I’m out of my element, sometimes it’s just best to stay home.


On the Road Series: Northeast 4 – New River Gorge National Park

IMAG0665New River Gorge National River is a National Park, who knew?  I found it by accident on my map as we looked for something to kill time with in West Virginia.  The bridge and the whitewater rafting is what attracts most to the area.

The bridge is impressive, built of steel in the late 1970’s, it is taller than the Eiffel Tower plus two Statues of Liberty.  Viewing it from the river side is particularly impressive.  The area played an important role in the industrial revolution, it hauled coal on the railways from the mines tunneled in to the mountain there.  People came from all over for the jobs that were available in the area.

The Park Service has taken ownership of 70,000 acres, but for once, they haven’t shrunk the value of the area.  I am not one to criticize the National Park Service, I love the properties they have preserved for the future.  What they have done differently with this one is to continue to allow use of the river for commercial purposes and there is even hunting on NPS land.  That makes great sense to me.

So when you visit, plan a trip with a whitewater guide, take the “Bridge Walk”, be sure whatever you do, you get near the water and look up.  Look at the land that was used to fuel the Industrial Revolution, and look at the way nature has reclaimed it.  Appreciate the value that land offers, no matter the season, it always takes care of itself.

On the Road Series: Northeast 3, Coal and Beer

IMAG0655Coal is the lifeblood of this Pennsylvania landscape we are in, anthracite coal to be exact.  There were millions of tons of coal buried in slants under the landscape and many worked hard to remove it.  One of the best places to view the process is the Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland, Pennsylvania.  We stopped at the local museum first to look through the exhibits and see what was to be seen.  They do a great job of sharing how the coal is formed and how it is different than other coals.  The fields of coal lay under the mountains in this area in a vertical slant, much of what is extracted is done from underground.

The Pioneer Tunnel piles you in to a Loki and takes you down the tracks, 1800 feet in to the tunnel, the tracks stop.  There are many veins of coal that you pass under in this tunnel that was actively worked until 1931.  There are offshoots that you can walk down to see the chutes that have been dug both high and low from the tunnel to extract the coal.  The process is dirty, dangerous and back breaking.  Over 31,000 men have died in the industry since the process began.  While the press plays up the big explosions and collapses, the majority of men were killed one or two at a time doing industrial work.  Our prayers for all of them.

Not far from Ashland is another Pennsylvania treasure.  The Yuengling brewery, founded locally in 1829, it is the oldest American brewery.  The story starts five generations ago when a German immigrant named David came over to the new country.  He wanted to build a brewery to support his family, so he looked for a place with a strong German culture, at that time in Europe, men, women and children in Germany drank beer.  He wanted to replicate that formula so he had built in buyers.  He landed in Pottsville, where the original brewery still stands – well, almost original, as was common in those days, the first one burnt down.  What I loved about the place was the sense of history, the world has not been scrubbed and polished, the doors still swing on pulleys, the basement is still dug out and accessible, there is no security at the door making sure you follow every sign.  It feels small, it feels personal, it was awesome.

The fifth generation still heads and owns the brewery today, there have been five male born descendants that have headed the company…the current one is 71 years old and he has four daughters active in the industry, but no sons.  A change is afoot.  Over the last fifteen years, Yuengling has expanded tremendously from it’s humble origins, there are now two additional breweries that each make 1.7 million barrels a year, in addition to the original.  Yuengling can be purchased in 18 states and is continuing it’s expansion.  Pretty impressive for a local brewery.

There is one more thing in Pottsville that the locals are proud of, perhaps more than the brewery even.  That is the Pottsville Maroons, a professional football team who won the championship in 1925.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them, they go by the Washington Redskins now.



On the Road Series: Northeast 2

IMAG0628Maps have always been one of my favorite things, whether coloring in a map for school; drawing a map for directions (a side note here, if I drew it, don’t trust it); following a map, whatever the reason to have a map, it must be a good one.  Our first order of business was sleuthing through a local cemetery to find some relatives.  We thought we had some good information, turns out, it wasn’t that good.  We could have used a map.    The cemetery was in Sunbury, PA, originally founded in the early 1700’s.  Most of the headstones were worn by the weather, so impossible to read.  It is always interesting for those of us who grew up in the west to come east where everything is older.  Our states and landscapes had been viewed by just a few when whole generations were being buried in the east.  We were successful in only finding a single headstone that was on our list, and that was with the help of the internet.  Amazing how a new technology can link us to something almost 300 years old.

By the time we had stopped exploring the plots, we had come upon dinner time.  A local suggested the Hotel Edison.  Right there in Sunbury is a shrine to Thomas Edison, the first commercial building in which he wired his new-fangled light bulbs in 1877.  There were many other items in the hotel that he had invented, it was quite the history lesson.  It wasn’t quite dark, so we added a “speed tour” to our list of topics for the day.  The Rand-McNally map has three items listed in pink in our area today (we assume these are places of interest), so we set out to see the pink dots around Sunbury.  First stop, Fort Augusta.  An outpost of the British to protect the colonies during the French-Indian war…yes, that is before the American Revolution.  They’ve built a small scale version of the Fort on the property where the original Fort stood.  Next, the Jacob Priestly House, across the river from Fort Augusta, this is the home of a leading nineteenth century scientist.  The man who discovered oxygen and many other things, including the concept of photosynthesis.  It is said that Priestly’s thought process was so out of wack and controversial, that he was run out of England.  Last pink spot for the day was the Susquehanna University campus, a quaint little campus near the Susquehanna River that was founded in the mid 1800’s.  Beautiful place, but with tuition and room and board at over $50K a year, I doubt I will know anyone who attends.

I really enjoy speed touring, it is a combination of sleuthing, speeding and hanging out with the people I enjoy the most.  We may not get the full experience, but it is always a good time.


On the Road Series: Northeast

IMAG0646In 1962, the small town of Centralia, Pennsylvania began to burn.   It still does to this day.  This area of Pennsylvania is known for its’ coal production, and that coal lies under the surface of the ground.  A fire lit to burn garbage, lit the coal on fire, there has been no way to extinguish it.  Some roads have crumbled, but for the most part, the government came in and bought out the residents of the town to relocate them.  Most left gladly, there are still about 10 residents who stayed.  The rest of the town is abandoned.  The homes have been razed, there is a section of highway that has been detoured, but the streets and sidewalks remain, if you hadn’t heard why the town was gone, it would look like an alien plot.

If given the chance, find the highway that has been detoured, it is covered with graffiti and has an otherworldly feel.

Temecula, CA…where good people meet

It’s Sunday, we are hunting for a place to watch the NFC championship game in Temecula.  Everything suggested to us is a chain, and I’m just not in to chains, now mind you, they have their place…but I am more in to supporting the local entrepreneur.  Driving around, we notice a brewery in old town.  The Crush and Brew, now that’s a clever little name.  They have a wine side and a beer side and only serve cold foods, it sounds interesting and for a Sunday at noon, it’s perfect for us.  We opt for the beer side, over 22 beers on tap, some as high as 12%.  Rich is an IPA drinker, so he chooses a sample platter of those, I go for a wheat beer, like usual.

At halftime, we are lamenting the slow start of the forty-niner’s, but have placed our order for the Block and Barrel, it’s an extra large cutting board full of meats and cheese, bread and various condiments.  Included is salami and deli meats, sauerkraut and olives.  Perfect for two.  They also serve a cheese platter, a bread board and lots of beautiful salads.  Add a great selection of wine and beer and you have yourselves a winner.  But that wasn’t the only thing that made the afternoon great.

We met Carol and Ernie and their daughter and son-in-law.  They are out touring the area, from Riverside, they like to spend their weekends looking for breweries and good food.  Temecula was their stop today with the help of Yelp.  I overheard a conversation about brew festivals coming up and asked them what they found.  This translated in to thirty minutes of animated conversation with some terrific people.  On top of that, they paid for our first round before they moved on to their next stop and came by for hugs to thank us for the conversation.  Wow, some people are just so nice.  So raise your glasses everyone to Carol and Ernie and all the kind people out in the world like them.  Perfect strangers can become perfect friends.

Hoodoo, Hoodoo you think you’re fooling?

I have had Love Me Like a Rock stuck in my head for days.  I know the song is really Who Do? not Hoodoo, but ever since I heard about hoodoos, it’s been on my mind.  Hoodoos aren’t found very many places, but there is a huge cache of them at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Hoodoos – Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is made almost entirely of limestone, it has the same colors of many of the other red rock canyons that are typically sandstone or granite, but the rocks are limestone here.  There are thousands of spires on the canyon floor that rise straight up and usually have a knob on the top.  These are called hoodoos.  No where are they more prevalent than in Bryce.

Our National Parks are a great resource for all of us to enjoy.  I find the easiest and least expensive way to enjoy them is with an Annual Pass.  For the price of $80, you can enjoy admission in to any National Park for free.  We’ve certainly gotten our monies worth, just going to Glacier, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon and Zion covered that cost.  When you add in the Petrified Forest, Arches, and Canyonlands, we’ve come out way ahead. And, if you don’t already have a pass, plan a visit over Veteran’s Day weekend where the entrance fee at all parks is FREE.

Some of the National Parks are free, but they get you with “concessions.”  Like, Mount Rushmore, you can go to the Mountain for free, but you have to pay for parking; or the St. Louis Arch, admission in to the bottom of the arch and the museum is free, to get to the top costs you.  Your annual pass won’t take care of either of those costs.  But still, well worth the money spent.

I think it’s much easier for those of us in the mountainous west to enjoy the parks system, we have so many great parks available within a days’ drive of most anywhere.  If you get the chance this year, now is the time to go, the crowds are down, the weather still good and the sights are gorgeous.  I love National Parks.

The Panhandle of Texas – from Glitz to Glamour

The Panhandle of Texas is an interesting dichotomy, you can find both cheap glitz and glamour, although the glitz is the easiet to find.  Dinner at The Big Texan is about as touristy as it gets, it reminds me of any of the surviving Route 66 travel stops, or the worst of Knott’s Berry Farm or Las Vegas in its’ darker days.  Everything at the Big Texan is designed for profit and ease.  The place is Hollywood cowboy décor from the costumes of the servers to the animal heads on the wall.  It is known for its 72 ounce steak challenge,  A one-hour challenge to eat 4 ½ lbs of beef and all the fixins’.  The record holder did it in less than 9 minutes back in 2008.  There is a table set up at the front for six people with a timer for each for anyone who wants to compete for the title.  If you manage it, the meal is free, if you falter, the price is $1 an ounce.  None of our group wanted to take the

The Big Texan

challenge.  The place is full of people passing by, I don’t think any locals frequent the place, as truly, the food isn’t that good, but man, have they made a name for themselves, the place was packed.  It was a fun stop, just to watch all the people and be able to say that we’ve been.  Next time, if there is a next time, it will be for one of us to take the challenge.

Another classic Amarillo glitz stop is the Cadillac Ranch, this isn’t like the Mustang Ranch in Nevada, not a bordello here, but rather a place where Cadillacs (that’s right, the car) are planted in the ground.  You can see it from the freeway, just to the south of I-40 on the West side of Amarillo.  The story goes, Stanley Marsh, owner of the land and patron of Art Farm allowed the Cadillacs to be planted as part of a public art installation project.  The cars are oft painted and graffitied, and this is encouraged,  Maybe one day, we’ll take some spray paint with us on the trip.

The glamour in the area is a little harder to find, it happens in a one-horse town, on the south-west corner of the blinking light, west of Amarillo called Vega, population 881.  Our first stop there was entirely by accident, this time, we made the choice.  There is a little restaurant there called the Boothill Saloon that is worth the stop every time.  The Boothill is a new place, although it’s built to resemble an old time saloon with swinging doors and a tin ceiling, a gorgeous long bar in front and classic red swag throughout the rest of the restaurant.  You can see it in any colorized Hollywood western movie.  This one has something spcial though, along the wall to the restroom, you’ll find a front cover from Bon Appetit that shows the ribs that helped make Rori Schpesi a Food Network Star.  The food

Great food at the Boothill Saloon

is incredible, the place is well-lit and shiny clean.  Since it was lunch, we all just opted for the Boothill Burger, the first on the menu prepared with much care from the chef inspired kitchen.  The Boothill is a gem among imposters, hidden away to be treasured by those who travel off the beaten path.

One of the best parts of our daily travel is the food we get to eat, the restaurants we stop at and the meals we share with others.  We’ve got favorites all over, and I would bet we will stop at all of them over the next 350 days – where would you recommend we stop?