Thursday, October 01, 2015

Moab Is The Place For Premium Baked Goods

Ed and the Wildcat 4x4 we rented to explore the rock trails in Moab, Utah at Sand Flats Recreation Area.

We only stopped in Moab so I could pop in to the Sweet Cravings Bakery and pick up a few of their amazing Oatmeal Cranberry cookies.

When I got back to the truck, Ed told me he'd been eyeballing the rental place and thought we should do it. Of course I resisted, but walked over to the shop with him to check it out anyway.  I could tell he really wanted to go and the UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) had to be back in three hours, which was better than an all day ordeal, so I acquiesced. And the guy agreed to rent us the 4-seater for the price of the 2-seater, which was super nice of him. He said we'd be more comfortable, which now I think must be code for "fatties need bigger UTVs".

I will post more pictures and commentary about the trip, but it wasn't so bad, I actually enjoyed it and I'd do it again.

And Ed loved it!

So much so, I don't even think he realized he bought a $330.00 cookie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: A Precursor To The Real Deal

2013: Only In The Summertime
2012: Craving Italy
2011: A Perfect Way To Start A Month
Old School
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
The Clubhouse Girls
Morning On The Air Train
The Other Side Of The Tracks
Vicki Bin Laden   

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Devil's Highway Takes You Past A 27 Million Year Old Rock With Wings

It's been more than six years since we've been in Shiprock, New Mexico.  The rock hasn't changed at all.

The way the highway snakes around the monument, it's hard to get a close-up photo, and there's really no great place to stop in a truck (there was one pull-out directly in front of it). So as usual, I try to get my pictures while moving.

From Utah, through Colorado, and into New Mexico, you travel on US Highway 666. They changed the name of it in 2003 to Highway 421, but it still shows as 666 on a map. There are claims that deaths and accidents were higher when it was named 666 than there are now.  

And then there's the legend of "The Evil Spirit of the Semi Truck".
"Many people have had complications with their vehicles on this haunted highway. Cars are known to overheat and even experience flat tires. Many individuals that have had to pull to the side of the road have reported an evil spirit that drive a semi truck at extremely high speeds from one of the road to the other end of the road. Many claims that they have been hit by this truck or come close to being hit. They express the fact that the truck seems to intentionally aim for them. It is believed that the spirit that controls this semi truck is angry and despises anything that contains life."

Shiprock (Tsé Bitʼaʼí in Navajo, meaning "rock with wings" or "winged rock") is a sacred monument located on the Navajo Nation in the four corners region. It rises 1,583 feet above the desert floor.

It's really quite amazing to see once it comes into view. Check out truly spectacular photos here

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: One Of Millions 

2013: I Walked In The Footsteps Of Richard Gere
2012: Flower Bar
2011: A Sign For Sore Eyes
2010: A Primm Landscape
2009: I Am A Kandee Addict
2008: The Tiny Intersection Where The Colors Collide
2007: Loved Shack
2006: Holy Mother Of Pearl
2005: The Starfish Effect

Monday, September 28, 2015

Last Night Was Super!

Last night we stopped in New Mexico to try to get a picture of the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. We wound up in a rest area with a great view of the sky, which in New Mexico, is not hard to find.

As the eclipse began, I took the photo above with my trusty little Canon PowerShot. I balanced it on a fence post, my iPhone propping up the front a little bit, set the aperture and speed according to an article I found online and made my photos. It's the most successful photo of the moon I've ever taken. Actually, it's the only photo of the moon I've taken that looks like a moon. Every other photo has always looked like a glowing white blob.

Ed took the photo below with his Canon Rebel, using a 300mm zoom lens. I wasn't able to get the red hue at all with my camera. He used a fence post and a rock for his tripod.

We stood marveling at the blood moon for a while before eventually getting back on the road. When we stopped again, the eclipse was over and the bright white Supermoon was back.

The last blood moon I missed - it was obscured by a mountain in Wyoming - but I am thrilled I got to see the Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse.  Now I don't have to wait another 18 years.

These are the perks of my awesome, awesome job!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Sloths Are The New Kittens

2013: In The Shadow Of Mount Olympus
2012: Toni And Her Sisters
2011: Paper Boy…And Girl
Breakfast Of Champions (And Truck Drivers)
Vegetarianism Brings On Extinction
It’s Beauty Is Just The Beginning
Eddie Relaxes In Style Friday
How To Tell Your Parents You Don’t Have A Roommate
Mangia! and You Just Know When You’ve Met “The One”

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Greatest Spectacle In Racing

The sign at this track says...
Ed has been here before, for an actual race, but this would be my first time. Thankfully, there was no race during my visit.

Our tickets.  Just $8.00 to enter a true Hall of Fame. I'm not a car fan or race fan, I don't have a favorite driver, and quite honestly, I can't imagine how watching a car go in a circle (okay, an oval) for 500 miles is the least bit interesting. But sometimes, certain places just need to be seen.  
This is the Panasonic Pagoda. It's located at the start-finish line and is as tall as a 13-story building. It contains state-of-the-art facilities for race control, safety, timing and scoring and radio broadcast booths.

It's where you'll find the Yard of Bricks, some of the "most hallowed ground in worldwide motorsports".

Inside the museum, Ed poses with the sterling silver Borg-Warner Trophy. According to the wording on the bottom of the trophy pedestal, "The sterling silver Borg-Warner Trophy has been symbolic of victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1936. A silver likeness of each winner has been added to this trophy since that date. To each winner, Borg Warner presents a smaller sterling silver replica of this handsome award."

Personally, I think my Eddie is the handsome award.

This is the Marmon "Wasp" that won the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Ray Harroun was the driver and it took 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 8 seconds to win. His average speed during the race was 74.6 mph. I feel comfortable doing 20 mph in this thing, even with a little leather helmet.

Over 50 years after this win, in 1963, the Marmon Motor Car Company, by then renamed the Marmon Motor Company, also manufactured semi trucks. It was a low-production, handmade truck often called the Rolls-Royce of trucks. They ceased truck production in 1997.

The placard in front of this car said, "The famed six-cylinder, single-seat, streamlined Marmon "Wasp" won the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, driven by Ray Harroun and relief man Cyrus Patschke. It was designed and built by the engineering department of the Indianapolis-based Nordyke & Marmon passenger-car firm. In response to complaints during practice that he was a potential safety hazard by not carrying a riding mechanic, driver/engineer Harroun rigged up, above the cowling, what is believed to have been the very first rearview mirror ever used on an automobile."

This is the Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special, the 1941 winner. It was driven by Floyd Eldon Davis for the first 72 laps, and then Mauri Rose for the remainder of the race.
A room full of colorful race cars.
The car below is the 1955 Indianapolis 500 Winner, The Pink Zink.

The information placard reads, "Although nicknamed "The Pink Zink," the correct name for the color of the 1955 Indianapolis 500-winning Kurtis-Kraft 500D was, according to car owner John S. Zink Jr., "tropical rose."  Starting back in the 14th, Bob Sweikert charged to the lead by lap 58 and led a total of 86 laps, including the last 41 in succession. This victory was the first of four as chief mechanic for A.J. Watson, who at the victory banquet gave much credit to Sweikert. Following qualifications, Watson had been called back to California on a family emergency, and it was Sweikert himself who single-handedly tore down and race-prepped the Offenhauser engine that won."

Car #32, the Sampson 16 Special.
This is the 1912 Fiat that came in second in the 1912 Indianapolis 500.  Teddy Tetzlaff was the driver and he ran the 4-cylinders of this baby at an average speed of 76.6 miles per hour.
This car reminds me of the little metal toy race cars we had as kids.  The colors, the STP on the nose, the shape of the car.
This belongs to a 1907 Itala Grand Prix race car. It's a 4-cylinder Itala race engine that, in 1910, ran 19.5 miles at an average speed of 97.5 miles per hour with a top lap at 101.8 miles an hour.

This particular car was built in the Itala factory in Torino, Italy.

As you'd expect, the cars get more "racier" looking as they get more modern.  The first one in this row in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 Winner.
Ed gets behind the wheel for a photo op. I'm sure if he could have set up his video screen right in front of him, he would have been in heaven. And security would have had to escort him out.

I squeezed into this one too - the picture was not flattering and you'll never see it, so don't ask - and it wasn't as tight as I imagined it would be. Getting out was more difficult because upper body strength was required to lift your whole body out. At least until you could bend a knee to push yourself out. I'm happy to report that I did it without Ed's help.

And this last car is the 1968 Indianapolis 500 Winner. It was driven by Bobby Unser.

The information poster accompanying this car said, "Bobby Unser's first of three "500" wins came in 1968. Driving a Rislone-sponsored 1968 Eagle entered by Leader Cards, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The car's four-cylinder 161-cubic-inch Drake Offenhauser engine was boosted by a turbocharger. This being the first occasion on which a turbocharged engine won the "500." The car has no rear wings because "bolt-on" wings were not permitted until 1972. This car figured quite prominently in the racing action scenes in the Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner motion picture, "Winning". Although the close-up shots involving the actors and the "mock" racing scenes shot during the summer of 1968 used a 1967 Eagle with a similar paint job."
I took the photo of this car for my brother. 1968 is the year he was born and today is his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

I hope you have a winning year!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Fall Babies

2013: We Are Family! I Got My Brother And Me!
2012: The Highlight Of My Life
Dream Big. Live Bigger.
Always Merry When Around My Brother
Living Outside The Touch Of Time
Girls And Their Boys
Living History
Company On The Prairie
Rack Eyes

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Night In Indy

Above, Ed puts the "I" in Indy.

I still can't get a hang of night photography. Granted, I'm only using my little point-and-shoot, I don't use a tripod, and I haven't done any research on how to actually improve my night photography skills. But, that doesn't stop me from taking pictures!

Here's the Indiana Power & Light Company building in downtown Indianapolis. They had several horse and carriages toting people around the city.  This one was shaped like Cinderella's carriage.

The structure below is an art installation that's part of The Public Collection of Indianapolis.

The Public Collection, according to the information kiosk in front of the building is a "public art and literacy project developed to improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts, and raise awareness for educational justice in our community.  Through a curated process, Indiana-based artists were commissioned to design unique book share stations or lending libraries that are installed in public spaces around Indianapolis.  The Public Collection stations are free and available to everyone. You can borrow and return books at your leisure. Books are supplied by the Indianapolis Public Library."

Brian McCutcheon is the artist who designed this structure, Monument, 2015, which can be found in Monument Circle.

Each column had this cool little book carousel inside. You open the little door, and spin the inside divided carousel to choose the one you want.
This is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument  which can be found downtown in Monument Circle, where Meridian and Market Streets meet. It took 13 years to build, constructed between 1888 and 1901.
 And then, just a picture of neon in a sandwich shop, offering Free Smells.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Loving Snow For Over Four Decades

I'm three or four years old in this photo, sitting on a pile of snow in the Bronx.

Today I turn 48.  Forty-EIGHT years old. How the hell did that happen??

Looking at myself over 45 years ago sitting on that pile of snow makes me realize what I've always know.  I'm pretty happy in cold weather. Well, I don't know if that's a happy face or a squinting into the daylight face, but I'm not crying, so it can't be that bad.

I still like cold weather, although I don't know if I'd enjoy sitting on a pile of snow today. Downhill tubing last year was as close as I've gotten in my adult life.

Right now, I'd just be happy if Fall would get here.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

You Don't Have To Wait For Christmas To Unwrap One Of These

I first heard about The Tamale Place on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I love tamales and really liked their story, so I put this place in my phone contact list hoping to one day drive through and check them out.  This past weekend I had the chance. Twice.
We went to their Greenwood location first because it was closer to where we were that day, and I liked it.  It was big, and open, and very clean. And the website isn't kidding when they say that they can't guarantee the availability of all tamales, every day. 

They make them at least twice a day, morning and afternoon, and when they run out, they run out. You have to choose from what's left on the board. Honestly, I'm thinking you can't go wrong with any of them.  There's not a bad choice.

Yesterday we went to the main location where they filmed the DDD show. This restaurant was smaller inside than the Greenwood one, and it was a little busier. We would have gone back to the other one but I wanted to see the place that made them famous, and it was closer to our sightseeing location for the day.

Also - and this is important for truck drivers - the Rockville Road location is less than a mile off of the I-465 loop on the west side of Indianapolis, and the plaza at this location has truck parking! We were in a rental car, but now that I know where it is, I'd feel very comfortable coming back in the truck.

We tried the Mild Beef in Red Sauce, the Mild Pork in Green Sauce, the Spicy Pork in Green Sauce, and the Spicy Chipotle Beef tamales.  This is the Spicy Pork in Green Sauce Tamale that Ed ordered yesterday:
Below is the Spicy Chipotle Beef tamale that I ordered yesterday.  The first day we went I had the Mild Beef in Red Sauce and although both were good, I liked the mild one better. The spicy one was just a smidge too hot for me.  We both ordered the combo which comes with either rice or beans, but we each got one side and shared.

These people really know how to make tamales. The corn for the masa is freshly ground every day, and they must make a lot of it because they crank out over 150,000 tamales a year, all handmade and hand-tied. 

But the real surprise, and the stand out for me, a die-hard tamale lover, were the tacos.

We tried the steak and the pork taco.  They're both made with a fresh house-made corn tortilla (which delivers BIG corn flavor), melted cheese, fresh cilantro, diced onion, and on the side, a small container of fresh salsa and a wedge of lime. The steak is diced and the pork is pulled.

The steak was okay, but the pork?  Oh. My. GOD. It was so incredibly juicy and flavorful, I was out of my mind. I think it was the best taco I've ever had.  Of course, when someone says that, they mysteriously forget the last best whatever-it-is they had.  But seriously, I think it was the best taco I've ever eaten in my life.

I will definitely be going back to this place, but to tide me over, I bought a dozen fresh tamales for the road.  I'm going to eat one for lunch tomorrow - one is really enough, they're a 1/2 pound each - and stash some in the freezer. I think it might just be the best $40 I've spent this week.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Into The Pacific Northwest
2012: Après-ski Is The Place For Me
2011: Rain Or Shine
In My Dictionary, Team Is Always Spelled Without An I
The Italian Energy Drink*
Looks Fairly Serene To Me
Taste, Smell, And Hear The Memories
Eddie’s New Ride

Monday, September 21, 2015

Art From The Bottoms Up

"It's an interesting (but not all that uncommon) geographic paradox: the poorest
part of the city has the best, close-up views of its imposing skyline."

Ed decided we were going to visit the neighborhood of Franklinton because he liked the way it sounded.

"Franklinton. Franklinton. Fraaaanklinton." he kept repeating as we drove there.

We didn't know anything about this area other than what I'd read on Wikipedia - who founded it, where it got its nickname, how the entire town flooded in 1913 when the levees holding back the Scioto river collapsed, filling the streets with 7 to 17 feet of water and killing 93 people, leaving another 20,000 homeless. That wasn't its last flood.

Fast forward to the 21st century - 56% of residents don't have a high school diploma, 60% live below the poverty line, and 93% of students in the public elementary school are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

But they have community art.
Apparently Franklinton, now over 218 years old, was a place known for its crime.  Graffiti, boarded up buildings, drugs, and prostitutes. Over the last few years, they've been trying to change that. 
The neighborhood even has a nickname, The Bottoms. It was called that because so much of the land in the area lies below the surrounding rivers. And some say because of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
The area is going through a revitalization but the people involved really don't want to price the current residents out of the neighborhood, something that often happens with standard gentrification. They'd rather have affordable housing in a nicer neighborhood. Not rich people buying up the neighborhood and pushing them out.

It sounds like a long and challenging process, but this neighborhood is really close to the other great downtown neighborhoods and it would be interesting to see what happens over the next 20 years.

Many buildings have murals just like this.  Full buildings, full of color. It sort of distracts from any blight in the area. Ed and I drove around looking for the artwork, and by concentrating on it, didn't notice that the area seemed as bad and what I've read about it.

Of course, this was in broad daylight and there weren't any hookers or drug dealers to be seen. Maybe they just don't work during the day.

This neighborhood is the site of the first settlement in Columbus.  There's a log post office, built in 1807, that's being restored. It was under plastic sheeting when we drove by. 
This will become the "hip new district of Columbus" as this Atlantic article states. I can totally see its potential.  It's directly across the river from downtown, the COSI (Center of Science and Industry) science museum sits on its western edge, it has direct access to a major interstate, and it really isn't such a bad location.

We see neighborhoods like this all over the country. Places that used to have factories, manufacturing, jobs. And they don't anymore. Detroit, Allentown, Pittsburgh. I would love to buy in one of these areas, because the potential (and artist's renderings are always amazing) but I don't think it's something that will really work for us. Well, unless it was the coolest old warehouse ever, at an unbelievable price.  And my neighbors aren't meth heads. Then maybe we could make it work.

Read the second part of John Tierney's coverage of this area HERE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Weekend Getaway

2013: Long Shadow In Kansas
2012: Spreading Joy, Pixie Style
2011: Coming Soon
2010: Feren Films Y’All Shouldn’t Miss
2009: This Guy Sucks
2008: Shine And Shine
2007: Eddie Hoots It Up Friday
2006: Eddie The Bird Whisperer
2005: Laundress

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Engine House No. 6

I love these old buildings.  If I could find one in a town I want to live in, I'd totally buy it and renovate it to live in. This one's an old fire station in Columbus, Ohio.

Engine House #6 operated from 1880 to 1966 and was the home of the Fire Department's first emergency squad in 1934. 

It's located on West Broad Street in the Franklinton neighborhood.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: To Me, You Are Perfect
2013: View From A Kansas Rest Area
2012: I Hate New Blogger!!
2011: Come On In And Take A Seat
2010: Doctor Recommended For Sure Death
2009: Wardrobe Malfunction: Intentional And Uncensored
2008: Eddie Friday: Outlined
2007: Modern, Yet No So Much
2006: Why Higher Education Is Desperately Needed
2005: Does A Bear Shit In The Woods?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Line For Service

We finally made it to ARI in Shipshewana, Indiana to get the air-conditioning unit fixed. Well, completely replaced. We arrived early in the morning and got in line, the place was packed. Every bay had a truck in it, several were lined up out front, and we got the last spot in the area where everyone drops their trailers.

There were so many trucks getting worked on, we were thrilled when they pulled us in right away. We wound up being there all day but for some reason service here is so not annoying. It must be their competence, which is hard to come by in some of the other places we've had the displeasure of visiting for service.

The first thing they did was remove the air conditioning unit from the roof and install the new one. The new unit on the roof inside the sleeper is smaller and slimmer in design, which I really like. And it's ice cold.

Then they removed the toilet from the bathroom toilet/shower enclosure, cleaned beneath it (an area I can't get to since it's sealed) and re-caulked the whole thing with bright, white caulk. It looks great. They fixed the leak under the shower, repaired the sleeper steps, gave us a few new light units for the cabinets, new pistons for the bed, new generator door clips (which Ed fixed), and a new thermostat for the a/c unit.

We had a chance to chat with the new guy - who's really not new, but just got a promotion from the production department - who is taking over the position of Service Administrator from Jen, an exceptional woman who we liked immediately when we first met her seven years ago. She's been one of ARI's greatest assets, but is leaving in November to pursue one of those wonderful little twists of life. She will definitely be missed, but Aaron (not new guy) is a super hottie with a great smile and quick laughter. That will make the transition much easier. For me, anyway.

Once everything was done, we plugged into the power pole - we love that coveted parking spot - and settled in for the night. With the truck fixe, we're now ready to go back to work and will be looking for a load in the morning. We've been off for three weeks now and Ed is itching to get back on the road.

But...if we don't find something, we'll be spending the weekend on our bicycles, touring Amish country.

If that happens, expect to see lots of pictures of buggies and farm animals.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Nebraska. In Color.
2013: Ominously Beautiful
2012: Signs Of Fall
2011: Life Explained…By Graphs
2010: An Amazon Sized Beverage Supply
2009: He Wasn’t Hiding His Face Once The Camera Started Rolling
2008: Waiting To Be Served
2007: The Men In Mexico Are Snappy Dressers
2006: A Mystically Beautiful Day
2005: Rock It!!