2014-southwest-trip Research Archives

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On The Road Again . . . Starting March 20th

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UPDATE: Our 2014 Spring Southwest/West Coast trip is complete. This post is the beginning of the trip.

For the past ten days I’ve been watching over Dad while mom enjoys her well-deserved break with her girlfriends in Phoenix. It seems she’s enjoying herself immensely down there, so much that I’m no entirely sure she’s going to actually board her plane and make the trip back to Seattle (please come back mama!).

Should she decide to return (lol), then I will return to Pasco and, together, Ann and I will leave Thursday March 20th for our own trek to Phoenix. We plan to arrive late on Thursday March 27th for the FC-Roundup (March 28th through the 30th).

If you’ve never seen any of our trips, photos and adventures, check out these two links from 2013:

1. Southwest Spring 2013 (6,000 miles)
2. East Coast Trip Summer 2013 (10,000 miles)

We start our Spring 2014 trip by visiting my kids in Salt Lake on the 20th, then head east for several days of exploring National Parks/Monuments in Colorado. From there we will stop in Santa Fe for a tour of the Bataan Museum (more background info for the next book). We’ll circle down through Las Cruces (I owe Ann a trip to the military museum down there) and then we’ll take some backroads through eastern Arizona to visit some mining related towns (family history). We should have lots of good photos and plenty to share.

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After the FC Roundup, we’ll head west for California. We’ll slowly take our time driving up through the state with readers, museums, food, parks and more on our agenda.

 

 
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Shirts, Books and Posters during our Trip

• CATEGORIES: Event, Features • TAGS: .

On this year’s trip we’ll have a few different items you can buy from us as we travel. If you want the items mailed to you, we’ll figure out a way to do that, too. Just email me (d @ ewillys.com). Everything is first come first serve.

The purposes of these items should be pretty obvious: 1) help raise money for our trips, 2) provide unique, vintage jeep items you won’t see elsewhere, and 3) to promote the community of vintage jeeps. For me, it makes the whole eWillys adventure more fun.

SHIRTS are $20 each: They shirts are good quality material that is 60% ring spun cotton and 40% polyester. They are light and very comfortable. The image is based on a WWII bond-drive image printed on an envelope.

1. Olive Drab: I only have Large and X-Large.
2. Gray: I have a couple of Smalls, Mediums and XXL. Mostly, I have Larges and X-Large.
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BOOKS are $20 each: Of course, don’t forget about my books. We’ll have copies of both. For those that don’t know, Finding Virginia is personal journey of mine, including my history with jeeps and more. The Amber Panels is an adventure/fiction novel based around the real Amber Panels. Of course, jeeps find there way into it, too.

One of the reasons for we are detouring down to Sante Fe, New Mexico, is to visit the Bataan Museum. WWII in the Pacific and the Philippines will play a role in book three, tentatively titled October Gold.
2014-trip-booksPOSTERS are $10 each: Not many left, but we’ll be carrying some of these with us as well. These are professionally printed 18″x12″ posters. I have varying amounts of each. Want more than one? We can make a deal.

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March 20: Dinner and Salt

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

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We left Pasco, Washington, at 5AMish yesterday, which means we’d planned to leave at 5AM, but due to last minute scrambling, our departure didn’t actually occur until 5:30. After nine hours of driving, we arrived in Salt Lake City in time to celebrate with the kids.

Karson, Kasia and Colter joined us at the Old Spaghetti Factory for some pasta. It was Kasia’s choice, due both to her upcoming 18th birthday and because we found out yesterday she’s been accepted to the University of Utah. However, she won’t be attending the U this fall, but will postpone it until the fall of 2015 so she can spend the next school year participating in a mentorship program in Los Angeles.

Colter has another two years at East High School. I think he hopes that without his brother and sister at school, he will no longer be known as Kasia or Karson’s little brother. Instead, people will actually know him by his own name.

2014-03-20-kids-oldspaghetti-factory2-loresYou may remember our trip from last summer when we ran into Karson twice during his participation in the Americorps/FEMA program. In November he successfully ‘graduated’ from the program with lots of experiences, stories and scholarship money. So, he decided to go to Westminster starting this winter. He seems to be enjoying it immensely.

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March 21: From Salt Lake City To Vernal

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The Easter-o-saurus greeted us at Vernal, Utah.

After our long drive on Thursday, we intentionally had an easy day drive of a few hours, a quick trip from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah.

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Day 2 of our trip.

We started off the day with some bagels at Einsteins with Karson. After we were done eating, we posed for a photo together, which further demonstrates that I either he is growing or I am shrinking. Must be the water in Salt Lake or something . . .

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It kind of looks like the guy on the horse in the photo is measure just how tall Karson is!

We were just about to leave Salt Lake when Ann and I spotted Caputos, a well known deli that now has a small store next to Einsteins. They know their stuff at Caputos and know a couple suckers when they see them. We walked out a little poorer, but with some really good goat cheese and some locally made chocolate.

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March 22: Old Bones and Old Jeeps

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .
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Dave shares his unique seat implementation, which will allow the seat to be tilted back or released entirely using the custom sliding seat attachments he’ll install for his seats.

We started our day planning to leave Vernal, Utah, and drive to Dinosaur National Monument, before heading for our final destination in Grand Junction, Colorado.

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But, before we left our motel’s parking lot, we spotted our first ‘feral’ jeep of the trip, an M-38A1 that was right across the street from us. The snowplow on the front suggests this utility vehicle’s singular purpose.

2014-03-22-vernal-cj5Satisfied with a quick photo, we were on our way, but not before one final dinosaur bid us a farewell.

2014-03-22-vernalDinosaur National Monument is about a 20 minute drive east of Vernal. The monument was established in 1915 after Earl Douglas discovered a quarry of bones near the small town of Jensen, Utah. While known for the amazing dinosaur history, much of the Monument consists of over 200,000 acres of rugged canyons. Apart from exploring the Monument, there are many other day trips which could keep a person busy exploring. We plan on returning to the area at some future point and spent several days driving the backroads.

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This is the Quarry building. No, this is not some cheap ploy to encourage Jeep Corp to sponsor our trips . . . unless it works.

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The former river bed behind Ann is full of bones. It was cool 20 years ago when I saw it for the first time and is still cool today.

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We made sure Henry had a great view.

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March 23: Hurray for Ouray

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .
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Here’s our selfie at a cook over look just south of Ouray, Colorado. Ann is putting on a brave face for the camera, but she’s very scared in that photo. This overlook hangs over the edge of a steep cliff.

With beautiful blue skies overhead, we started the day in Grand Junction with our sights set on the mysterious Colorado National Monument. Having done no research on it, and trusting Dean’s advice from yesterday, we started at the western entrance of the park near Fruita.

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After the ranger station, the road climbs quickly, switching back and forth, tunneling through rock, and teasing the driver (who should really keep his eyes on the road according to Ann) with beautiful views of the Grand Junction Valley. Those travelers familiar with Southern Utah will instantly recognize the red sandstone walls, the juniper trees, and narrow canyons.

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After four miles of driving, we arrived at the visitors center, a complex perched near a canyon wall with a view toward some of the amazing pinnacles that dot the landscape. Inside the visitors center we learned about John Otto, the man that made the Monument happen. His early vision included an amazing road full of switchbacks that would allow cars to traverse the park from one end to the other. Hi dream might not have become a reality had the Depression not happened, for it provided all the cheap labor ($1/day/per person) he need to carve a twenty-three mile road through the park.

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After driving the road, it’s my opinion that it is one of the truly unique features of the park. There aren’t many places along the drive that don’t feature beautiful views. It is one continuous bit of eye candy from start to finish.

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March 24: Talking Jeeps w/ Worn Rusty Hubbs

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .
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Rusty and me with his FC-170. This seemed like an appropriate photo to start the post since the FC Roundup is only a few days away.

We woke up a little lazily on Monday morning. We knew we had a long drive ahead of us from Durango to Santa Fe, but we wanted to peruse a little of Durango before we left, so we hunted down some breakfast using an iPhone App called Ness (that won’t be around much longer), which calculates the time of day to suggest nearby restaurants (for mornings it will find breakfast places for example) and provide ratings. That’s how we found the Durango Diner in downtown Durango.

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The Durango Diner had a wide selection of breakfast items that looked good, including two eggs & a chile relleno, which was my choice. I expected to just get the eggs and the relleno, but instead there was a heap of hash browns with green chile sauce (love that New Mexican Green Chile sauce, even in Colorado). It was a lot of food and if there’s one thing I’ve learned on these trips, eating light saves money and bathroom stops. So, I ate a good portion then pushed it away, reluctantly.

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I liked the sauce enough to get a “to-go bottle” of it.

We left Durango and quickly found ourselves wandering through northern Idaho, or what looked like northern Idaho to us. Southern Colorado felt remote and looked beautiful as we drove through endless forested valleys with the occasional ranch.

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Today’s trip from Durango to Santa Fe

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March 25th: TinkerTown and the Turquoise Trail

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2014-03-25-tinkertownWe started off the morning at the New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum, which includes a special exhibit about the embattled soldiers of Bataan and Corriegor. That episode of WWII was particularly important to New Mexico as they had a detachment of National Guard troops in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked. The entry hall is lined with stories of soldiers who perished at different times during the war, some along the Bataan Death March, some in POW camps, and some in the ‘Hell Ships‘.

Given the use of ‘Bataan’ is used prominently in the Museum’s name, I expected to find a more in-depth look at the loss of Philippines, the type of treatment endured by POWs, the concern over the POWs lives if Japan lost the war (all prisoners were supposed to be executed) and more. However, instead of finding that, the museum focuses more on telling the story of the New Mexico National Guard, from their fights in the civil war to present-day, which is understandable.

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Ann pointed out one spot where the wiring isn’t up to standards on this gun.

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This tribute to the Bataan March includes several items that survived the war.

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This was the jeep used in a WWII display. oops.

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An overview of part of the museum.

So, it’s a fine little museum with free entry, but Ann and I both agreed that they have a unique opportunity to tell an important story that doesn’t fully educate the visitor about that event. Fortunately, there are some sources that do explain why the Philippines were lost and the treatment endured by the POWs (books that are sitting on my book shelf at home and whose names I can’t recall at the moment).

On the bright side, they do have a pretty accurate M-38 in good shape.

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March 26: Darth Vader and Tractor Bob

• CATEGORIES: FC150-FC170-M677, Features • TAGS: .
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Gordon and Ellen stand in front of their CJ-3B Tractor Bob. A name thought up by their grandson, who is an avid reader of eWillys, Tractor Bob isn’t Mr. Reliable. Apparently on more than one occasion a jaunt about Silver City in Tractor Bob meant a relaxing hitchhike home. Therefore, Ann and I thank Gordon and Ellen for taking a chance and driving Bob to meet us for dinner and a narrated walk around the wonderful town of Silver City.

Before I share Wednesday’s fun, let me comment on the La Quinta Inn in Las Cruces . . . On Tuesday night when we arrived at the La Quinta Inn in Las Cruces (did I mention the La Quinta Inn??), we were surprised to discover that when we got to our hotel room, it hadn’t been cleaned (pizza boxes piled on a table and the beds remained unmade). Now, while I knew I’d gotten a great price on the room using Priceline, I did have an expectation the room would be clean. So, I went back to the desk and asked for a different room.

The mortified desk clerk apologized and quickly gave us a new room. Off to the second room we went (just a few doors down from the first one). We unpacked, then I went into the bathroom, only to discover there were no tissues in the dispenser (I really don’t give a rip, but in this case it wasn’t a good sign) and there was melted ice in the ice bucket container from the previous guests, meaning this room hadn’t been cleaned/restocked very carefully. While we were too tired to complain, I did check out the bed to make sure the sheets were clean.

Wednesday morning at checkout, I explained our poor experience to the morning clerk. Like the evening clerk, the morning clerk was mortified. She promised to address the situation and told me I’d receive a coupon in my email to make up for the poor experience we’d had. When I checked my email I discovered that the La Quinta Inn felt our poor experience warranted a whole $5 discount. It’s fair to say I remain unimpressed. Did I mention that was the La Quinta Inn in Las Cruces???

However, we didn’t let our La Quinta Inn experience dampen our mood. Our goal for the day was to get to the White Sands Missile Range Museum and then head over to Silver City.

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The Museum was a pleasant surprise. Even the price was reasonable (free). The museum is divided into two interior sections and an exterior missile park. We started with the main interior portion. One of the first exhibits we encountered was an original Darth Vader mask. Apparently, the guy who won the Oscar for the Star Wars (for you young folks I am referring to Star Wars Episode IV) sound effects obtained a variety of sounds from the missile range, so he managed to get the Darth Vader mask donated to the museum. Nice bit of trivia!

2014-03-26-missile-museum7Ann was very excited about all the missile stuff. She was particularly interested in the specifics of the device in this case. She stayed hunched over this exhibit for several minutes, fascinated by it. She attempted to explain some part of it to me and did this with her hands.

2014-03-26-missile-museum6But, this wasn’t just missile history. There were other smaller exhibits. For example, there was a very small, but interesting exhibit on the Apache fight with the U.S. Soldiers during the 1880s. One of the soldiers involved in the fighting was very sympathetic about the Apache situation, noting the Apache had been lied to far too many times and had no choice but to fight, even likening them to the American Revolutionaries fighting for the right to their land. It was an interesting perspective from a small, but good exhibit.

Another small, but powerful exhibit was a series of paintings done by Benjamin Charles Steele, who survived the Bataan Death March and Japanese prison camp. He drew sketches while a POW, but they were destroyed. So, after the war, he got a degree in art and recreated the paintings. The paintings coupled with concise descriptions tell a powerful story of his (and many others) experience as a POW in the Pacific Theatre.

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These paintings line the entire room.

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It was hard to take a good photo of it due to the glass. This shows the burial detail to which Benjamin was assigned.

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March 27th: Joe’s Jeeps

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From left to right Alan, Me and Joe and Joe’s jeeps. Alan also owns a few jeeps, including a Surrey he’s been restoring. He too can blame his father for his Willys sickness.

On Thursday morning we woke up to silence. The room at the Murray was amazingly peaceful. There’s no constant hum of a nearby highway, no air condition humming noisily, just relaxing quiet. For that reason alone we liked our stay in Silver City. But, as all good things must end, we said goodbye and hit the road for a ‘blue highways’ journey through New Mexico and Phoenix.

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Before we left Silver City, we wanted to take a couple photos of the former Main Street. You can see the enormity of the damage from a storm that happened in the 1880s. There has been some discussion of filling in the area, but the importance of the event in the town’s history seems to win over any discussions of change.

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Former Main Street of Silver City. Now a giant gully that still fills with water during the rainy season.

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An example of the tall side walks that help direct the water down the street during heavy rains.

 

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March 28th: Charging Futility and FC Roundup Day 1

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Wayne’s FC appears to be bowing as if to say “Welcome to the Round Up!”

Prior to the beginning of this trip, I planned to have a new battery in my MacBook Pro laptop (currently three years old) and a backup charger (mine has lots of black tape holding it together). But, my planning went completely wrong. First, I ordered a battery off of ebay, only to receive a broken one. So, I sent that back and ordered a second one, which turned out to be an imitation, unlike what was advertised. Since my current battery still lasts about 2 hours, I figured I’d survive the trip with it.

For a back up charger, I planned to bring Ann’s, along with her old Mac Book Pro laptop. But then, her mom bought her a new Mac Book Pro laptop for her birthday. What I didn’t realize is that Apple changed the charger slightly for the new retina displays, meaning her charger doesn’t work with mine.

Despite these obstacles, I figured I could make the charger survive. Well, I couldn’t. Today, of all days, with us running late to get to the FC Roundup, the charger failed me. So, off to the Apple store I went to buy a new charger, which made us later. You gotta love technology. It never fails to go bad at the worst times . . .

Eventually, we made it to the FC Roundup and had a wonderful afternoon relaxing and talking with folks. There’s a bigger turnout than we’d seen from the last two years were were here. Even more people are arriving tomorrow, so it should be great fun. Here’s some photos from today:

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This is what it is all about. Hanging out and chatting.

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Note the cut down MB grille on the front of the FJ

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This newcomer is a beautiful build.

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FCs show up in all types of condition.

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March 29th: Red Lobster or Bust — Day 2 of the FC Roundup

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: , .

2014-03-29-fcroundup-groupIt was a busy day at the FC-Roundup. There were more trucks, more people and plenty of visitors. The weather was a little warm, but I know I relished the heat after our cold winter in Pasco.

The morning started for some of us with a 6am breakfast FC convoy, which I did alone as Ann decided she’d enjoy sleeping a little while longer. We all met over at Jesse’s. Thinking Jason’s tour jeep was going to be filled, Craig Brockhaus jumped into the rear. I was thinking the same thing, so I jumped up next to him. It turned out we were the only two in the back two rows. Certain someone would tell our wives that we were seen taking a romantic ride in the back of the tour jeep, Craig made the smart move to shift to the other side.

We made it to breakfast at Fast Eddies without a single jeep breaking down. That could be a record! For the trip back to the event, Jesse offered to give me a ride in his M-667. Well, wouldn’t you know but that two-timing Craig wasted no time inviting Dan Devries into the back of the Tour Jeep for the rid home. I feel so cheap now . . .

After a quick trip back to the hotel to pick up Ann, the two of us met up with Colin Peabody for a wide ranging chat. He had some good suggestions for Route 66 stops, so we’ll be including some of those on the early part of our trip toward California.

Just before we left, Colin showed us his DJ-3A Surrey. It’s a beautiful vehicle that he enjoys immensely.

2014-03-29-fcroundup-colinThe door-prize giveaway just after lunch. Jason and Greg combined forces to provides several really cool customized signs. We were all drooling over them. I implored my wife to use all her witchy powers (after all, she is the descendent of John Ketcham). But, no matter what she tried, she could win me a sign!  I doubt her heart was truly in it, because she didn’t think we’d be able to take it home. But, I had a solution and that solution was to come up with a plan once I won the sign. Alas, that didn’t happen. Here are a few of the signs.

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March 30th: Phoenix’s Mystery Castle

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .
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The Mystery Castle as it appeared in Life Magazine in 1948.

On Sunday we didn’t do a whole lot, which was just fine with us. But, we did have one objective: To visit the Mystery Castle. Located just south of Phoenix the Mystery Castle was built in the 1930s by Boyce Gulley. While living with his wife and daughter in Seattle, Boyce learned he had tuberculosis and was given six months to live. Without a word to them, he left. After wandering for a year, he discovered he wasn’t going to die. So, he settled down in Phoenix, got some free land south of the city, and built a castle for his daughter. His wife and daughter wouldn’t learn about the castle until after his death in 1945. When they arrived to take possession of the property, they were told that after living there two years, they could open up a mystery door.

On January 1, 1948, Life Magazine was there to cover the opening of the door. You can learn more about what they found by reading the January 26, 1948, issue of Life Magazine.

Here are some photos. You really have to see the place to understand it. If you like rustic and eclectic, this place is a must see:

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Following our tour of the house, we got some food and headed for some quiet time for the next few days. While I do have some updates already prepared for Tuesday, there won’t be any trip updates until Wednesday.

 
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April 1: The Next 10 Days

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Yesterday we had some fun in Phoenix, but I will provide that update tomorrow. Here’s our basic travel plan for the next ten days. If you are along this path, let us know. After Huntington Beach I will post an updated travel schedule, but we will most likely be following the coast until Salinas.

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March 31: Stagecoaches and a Glass Desert

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Chihuly glass sculptures on a boat in a pond at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Even though Ann’s birthday wasn’t until April 1st we decided to celebrate it on March 31st. My present to her was a nice room at the Marriott and for me to abstain from work. Well, she got 1 out 2, as I only abstained from most work.

Our stay at the Marriott (in Scottsdale) was nice due to the beautiful room. However, the room we had was placed among a series of rooms where there were some college/high school aged guys. But, rather than on Spring Break, I got the feeling they were staying there longer term. They weren’t being rowdy, but the hall echoed badly as the room doors opened/shut loudly and often. At one point I had to get the manager to move a set of young men out of the hallway after they became noisy (and after I’d confronted them once). Eventually they settled down and we didn’t have any more problems the rest of our stay.

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We started Monday by driving to visit the Wells Fargo Museum in downtown Phoenix. It was a rather small museum inside a Wells Fargo bank building. The museum turned out to be a little gem. First of all it was free (perhaps funded in part by the questionable mortgage practices to which my ex-wife fell victim in 2008 — she wasn’t totally innocent, but the phone reps flat out lied to her . . . but, I digress). The museum had several neat displays that included the history of the company, a challenge for visitors to put thirteen dolls into/onto a single carriage to demonstrate how crowded they could be, the difficulties of hunting ‘highway men’ and more. There’s even a very nice painting collection. If you have an hour and are downtown, I recommend it (145 W Adams
Phoenix, AZ 85003 – Learn more at Yelp).

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It might not looks like much, but each of these displays is pretty neat.

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Ann’s inside this stagecoach while a narrator takes her on a journey (you can just see his head in the background).

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This coach is designed to carry thirteen people. The goal is to fit all thirteen dolls into the coach. It’s an effective way to show how crowded some coaches could be.

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Wells fargo will print your photo and email you a photo if you want your picture on some money.

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April 1: From Scottsdale AJs to Seligman Sundries

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A piece of eWillys is now a part of Route 66 history at Seligman Sundries

We began our day by replenishing our food supplies. Unlike our trip to the East Coast last summer (we each gained ten pounds), we’ve been more careful about what we eat. This has meant many light dinners of good cheese, smoked meats and some crackers. Since Ann shouldn’t eat cows milk (beef protein sensitive since a baby), we’ve been shopping for goat and sheep cheese. Since AJs Fine Foods, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods are good sources of that cheese (and close together in Scottsdale), we decided we’d better stock up so we’d have dinner for the next few days.

After our shopping was done, we drove toward Mayer, AZ, where I’d learned about a place called Arcosanti. Below is an example photo of the place and more images here. I thought it warranted a closer look.

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I wanted to drop by Arcosonti, but we accidentally passed it.

For some reason, I thought this unusual development was outside Mayer, Arizona. It turns out it is near the intersection of I-17 and Hwy 69, which we’d already passed. So, we ended up touring Mayer for a short time before resuming our trek north to Route 66.

But, it wasn’t all for naught, as we did find this collection of odd vehicles just before Mayer. There’s a couple jeeps among some vintage trucks.

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A lineup of trucks overlooking the freeway.

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A wagon and a truck just to the left.

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An M-38A1.

We soon found ourselves in Chino Valley, where I spotted this collection of vehicles. Based on what I see I believe all five are Austin Champs, like the vehicles I bought and, fortunately, sold a few years ago. I just check Google Map’s satellite view, but had no luck as they don’t appear on it.

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Austin Champs in Chino Valley.

From Chino Valley, we drove north until we turned east on I-40. Soon we found a Route 66 exit and began to get our kicks on Route 66.

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A sign that greeted us as we exited Interstate 40.

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April 2: It is Cold, Windy and Raining . . . This is the Mohave Desert?

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .
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We left Arizona and entered California under a few dark clouds.

On Wednesday we began the morning by driving to the Route 66 Museum at the old power station in downtown Kingman.

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Map of our drive on Wednesday April 2

On our way, there were more classic motels, but one in particular caught our attention. There was much more going on at this hotel — murals and themed rooms — but our photos didn’t turn out good enough.

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After many photographs, we finally made it to the two floor power station. Downstairs you’ll find a gift shop and visitor’s center. Upstairs is the entrance to the museum where we purchased our tickets. The cashier was an older gentleman who at first seemed gruff and bothered by our presence, but then warmed up as he got into a short presentation about how the tickets we purchased were good for three museums in the area. We also learned that active military folks get in free.

The museum tour starts with some history of the trail which proceeded the route. However, one of the first things I spotted was a photograph of a jeep from 1943. It’s the only jeep I saw in the place.

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From there more history unfolds: the need for good roads, the construction of Route 66, and the success of the towns following WWII, until the opening of Interstate 40 in 1984.

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These maps showed chunks of the early highway with some interesting information.

In the middle of the 66 history is a large diorama that shares Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and his use of Route 66 in the book.

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April 3: Joshua Tree National Park

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Ann and I enjoying a perfect day at Joshua Tree National Park.

Our goal today was to make a quick trip to Joshua Tree National Park and then hit a motel in Palm Desert early, so we could rest and wash some clothes.

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However our quick trip to the park turned into a four hour stay, between a long hike and the long drive through the park. Part of the delay was my fault, as I took a bunch of photos:

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Joshua has two entrances on the north side and one on the south side. We planned entered via the northwest entrance out of the city of Joshua Tree. There’s a good visitors center at that location, so I’d recommend starting there. The visitor’s center also isn’t far from this Willys Truck that his hawking firewood.

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A truck in Joshua Tree City outside of the National Park.

 

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April 4th: The Borrego Springs Jeep

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The Borrego Springs Jeep Sculpture — Awesome!

We spent Thursday night in downtown Palm Desert. The downtown area is beautiful and I’d like to explore it more some day, but on Friday morning we had no time to see it. Instead, we had a specific mission: find the jeep sculpture in Borrego Springs, California.

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We drove from Palm Desert to Borrego Springs. From there we drove to Ontario for cheaper weekend stay and for a Sunday excursion to Hollywood.

Before leaving Palm Desert, more food was needed and, after some googling, we landed at Jensens. One look at the deli case — lobster pot pie, sliced medium rare lamb, and more — we knew we’d better tread carefully, or we wouldn’t have any money left for the remainder of the trip. We couldn’t resist a few slices of lamb, but did pass on the lobster pot pie (Drats! I really wanted to know how that tasted).

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Ready for our trip into the desert, we drove east before turning south. The highway took us down the western side of the Salton Sea. Back in my Manyone Network (circa 2006 and pre-eWillys) days I worked with a group to develop a portal about the unique aspects of the area. I’d always wanted to see the sea in person and finally got that chance today. While I’d seen it in photos, it is much bigger in person than I’d imagined.

When we reached Salton City, we began our trek west to Borrego Springs, but part way along our journey we discovered a bit of jeeping nirvana: Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. First, we spotted a sign for a “4×4 Obstacle Road”.

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Henry saw the 4×4 road sign and was ready for some off road action. But then he saw the pipes and tires and thought better of it.

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This is part of the obstacle course. A large pile of tires is on the left and some drainage pipes are on the right. The hills are steeper than appear in this photo.

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April 5th: Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor

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We didn’t do a lot today. I got caught up on emails and ewillys, worked out (trying to do a better job of that this trip), and relaxed. We also slept. A lot.

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Oh yeah, we also ate some ice cream, too. At a Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor no less (probably need to work out again).

When Ann and I were kids Farrell’s was the place to go for birthday parties (Me in Renton, She in Pasco). Farrell’s was loud, crazy and sugarlicious. Then in the mid-1980s Farrell’s closed quickly. The reasons for the closures are hinted at in this history of Farrells: http://www.farrellsusa.com/history-of-fun.php

So, when Ann found a brochure for Farrell’s in the lobby of our hotel, she got very excited. After unsuccessfully trying to convince me that we should have Farrell’s ice cream for breakfast, we agreed to go yesterday afternoon. Even better, it was located on old Route 66 (not that there’s anything left over from the original Route 66).

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Picture on the wall outside of Farrells in Rancho Cucamonga

Though the wait was long, we enjoyed ourselves. The place still captured the spirit and look of the original Farrell’s. There is still the famous Zoo on the menu (feeds hordes of children). The sounds of birthday songs and drum banging reverberated throughout the restaurant. The ice cream was better than dairy queen, but certainly no Zingers. But, that’s okay. It’s all about the fun and about recapturing good memories from bygone youthful days.

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A very happy wife. This was the first ice cream of the trip. No more until we hit Zingers in Oregon.

Sunday we get to hear a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and receive a short, behind the scenes tour of it.

 
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April 6th: Wurlitzer to Wigwam

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Our wigwam for the evening . . .

We began the morning driving the I-10 to the El Capitan theatre (owned by Disney) at the heart of Hollywood. It wasn’t all clear to me how this would play out, but somehow we were going to hear Rob Richards play on one of the last five remaining “Fox Specials”, of which Farny Wurlitzer once said were his masterpieces.

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Not enough smog in LA to block out the Hollywood sign on Sunday!

Rob was kind enough to email me back in December to tell me he’d welcome our presence at the theatre so we could meet and he could play for us. How could I pass that up? So we agreed to meet on Sunday for a 12:40pm show. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but Rob would play music on the organ as people streamed into the theatre prior to the movie (which today was the Muppets).

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At the agreed upon time, Rob whisked us inside (comped tickets no less — how do these things happen to me?) and began playing for just Ann and I. He bounced between various disney songs as the pipes and bells and whistles bellowed from the right and left of the front row.

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Blurry, but you get the point. We have the theatre to ourselves for a short time. We even scored some free popcorn and a drink!

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Rob is playing as I watch and enjoy.

Rob played for about twenty minutes as the crowd shuffled into the theatre. When the movie was ready to begin, the organ began dropping into the state as he continued to play. A great ending to a unique opportunity.  It was our end as well, for we didn’t stay to see the muppets movie. We had other things to do.

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Here I am checking out the walk of fame.

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April 7th: From McDonald’s to Ruby’s

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On the pier @ Huntington Beach, California

On Monday we and my ‘squaw’ awoke in our ‘teepee’ to a beautiful morning. The $70 we paid for a night at the Wigwam was a splurge for us, but we slept well and enjoyed the uniqueness of the experience.

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The grounds are nicely kept and the area was clean.

Our first task of the day was to visit San Bernardino’s contribution to the world: The very first McDonalds in 1948. It turns out the ‘birth’ story of McDonald’s are actually two stories, the official McDonald corp stance and the actual truth. Thankfully, the founder of the Pollo Loco restaurants in Southern California has saved this original history (despite McDonald corp efforts to tell a different story). Even better, he’s made the museum free. Now, I wouldn’t drive hours out of my way to visit this, but if you are near San Bernardino, it is worth a short detour in my opinion.

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Though not the original build, that is part of the original sign and this is the original location of the very first McDonalds.

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Part of the mural on the side of the building commemorates the launch of the first McDonalds.

According to the McDonald corp, the first McDonald’s was started by Ray Kroc in Des Plaines, IL. It turns out that, yes, the Des Plaines location was the first McDonald’s Kroc started. But he launched that one as a franchisee of the McDonald brothers. It wasn’t until 1955 that Kroc bought out the McDonald Brothers and gained control of the business. Here’s some fast-food info:

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History of the Hambuger

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April 8th: California Adventure w/ Mrs. Soggy Bottom

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Yep, I found the Willys truck near the Grizzly Water Slide in the California Adventure Park. How could I resist a photo with it? Of course, I could not.

Our goal for today was simple: Go to Disneyland’s California Adventure Park. This was made possible by the kind donation of a reader who wishes to remain anonymous coupled with Disney’s active military only three-day $129 park hopper pass. That pass allowed us to do one park yesterday (California Adventure) and one park today (Disneyland). (how is she still active military you wonder? The Air Force refuses to release her fully from duty because of her role).

Map of California Adventure Park

Even better, because Ann can’t stand for long periods of time, Disney’s handicap system provides us a way to avoid standing in lines for the ‘fast pass’ tickets. I won’t go into explaining how the Disney Fast Pass vs the standard waiting line vs the single line vs the handicap line all differ from one another, because it does get a little confusing. But, I do have to thank Disney for making the experience possible for Ann (and others).

Now, why am I calling her Mrs. Soggy Bottom? Because we made the mistake of riding the Grizzly Water Ride as our second ride. She got his with a lot of water, causing her shorts to get wet. It was she who called herself Mrs. Soggy Bottom 🙂

The “Cars” ride was by far our favorite. It starts as typical ride, but then turns into a road race. Pretty fun! What I found most amazing about this ride was the rock wall over and behind it. The rock looks so real and is enormous (see second pic — huge!!). I’m sure it is fiberglass/plastic/cement . . . but the paint, and look, down to the dirt at the bottom of one of the faux mesas’s was incredible.

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Some other pics:

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Tomorrow go back for a second day. This time we will go later and stay late to see the evening water show.

 

 
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April 9th/10th/11th: Disney/Eating/LA Traffic

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Restored 1903 Olds built to replicate one driven across the United States in 1903 from New York to San Francisco.I’m checking out the flywheel.

Most of this week Ann and I stayed with Josh and his wife Quinn. Josh a long time friend of mine that I haven’t seen in nearly four years (and had yet to meet Quinn and their new son Jacob). So, we spent a couple evenings having a few drinks and catching up (yes, probably more important than even eWillys!). I even got a chance to do some cooking: poached salmon in a mushroom stock with rice pilaf for dinner and some eggs benedict with hollandaise made, in part, from a vinegar/shallot reduction (best hollandaise I think I’ve ever made from scratch — sorry, no pics).

On Wednesday Ann and I made it back to Anaheim for day two of our Disney adventure, this time in the Disneyland side. It was a good day and we stayed until the very end to watch the water show and fireworks. I can’t imagine the coldest of hearts does feel their inner child peak out as disney music booms from the speakers while the water shows, dancing, and fireworks fire up the imagination. Here are a few pics:

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Welcome to Disneyland!

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Me about to ride the Thunder Train.

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Ann with the Matterhorn in the background.

After a thorough exploration of the park, I concluded there are no jeeps on the premises. However, during the Jungle ride, I am pretty sure I spotted an upside down Mighty Mite. Though I couldn’t positively prove this was the case, after Googling it, I discovered there are pics of a Mighty Mite from the Disney World Jungle Cruise on the G503 site. I guess I’ll just have to go back and investigate more . . .

On Thursday we drove down to meet a friend of my mothers and her husband on Balboa Island. They took us out to Ruby’s on Balboa pier:

Even we couldn’t pull of this photo. It’s from this magazine: http://newportbeachmagazine.com/taste-of-the-town/

We gorged ourselves on hamburgers, fries and chocolate shakes. The best part of the day was getting some of the down low information on my mother from her longtime friend. And, as Mom reads that previous sentence, she is wondering just what Karen told me . . . lol 🙂

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2014-04-12: Dan’s FCs and The Lost Romanian

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Dan Horenburger and I in front of his Streamline FC Motorhome. See more pics here: http://thefcconnection.com/dan_horenberger_fc_motorhome.htm

Our home for Friday and Saturday night was the Thousand Oaks Hampton Inn. Thousand Oaks was great in part because they had some good food stores. The local Whole Foods had some sliced bison meat they sold in a warming bag (kind of like they do with chicken). Since Ann avoids beef most days (beef protein sensitivity) having some Bison was a treat for both of us!  Not only do they have food, but this small community seems to have more shopping per square foot than most. There are shops everywhere, but not many houses (that we can see) to support them all.

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Saturday we did a big loop. The drive north and west on 23/118 was particularly beautiful, due to the beautiful rocky and hilly terrain. The remainder of the drive (especially 101) was full of traffic.

On Saturday, after sleeping in late (due to being awakened by some walking very heavy in the room above us at 4:30am), our first adventure was a meeting with Dan Horenburger, who has collected an amazing collection of Forward Controls. It was a unique treat to have him share their history with us.

Dan explained that he was brought home in an FC after being born. Clearly he caught the Willys Sickness within just a few days of his birth, the poor guy. By his mid-teens he purchased and rebuilt his first FC. By then there was no turning back, so instead of medication or therapy, he embraced it. Since then he’s spent many years searching for unique vehicles. Fortunately, his professional (carousel restoration) allowed him to travel far and wide to search for them. As you will see he’s been successful.

Here are some of the Fire FCs he owns:

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He also has this rare driller attachment on the back of an FC-170:

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