Moonbeam Kitten Finds the Cat Stand!

From the children’s picture book I am working on, “The Adventures of the Moonbeam Kitten” using photos of my snow Bengal mom, Moonshine and her kitten Moonbeam.

Mom I'm bored.

Mom I’m bored.

Then let's go play!

Then let’s go play!

Okay here I go!

Okay here I go!

What is this big thing I see?

What is this big thing I see?

Look Mom, a toy on a carpet tree!

Look Mom, a toy on a carpet tree!

There is something back here!

There is something back here!

I’m going up!

I’m going up!

How did get up there?

How did get up there?

I made it!

I made it!

I wonder where this hole goes?

I wonder where this hole goes?

Here I go!

Here I go!

I’m back!

I’m back!

This is big fun!

This is big fun!

I can’t reach the other side.

I can’t reach the other side.

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I AM WRITING A COOKBOOK AND IT IS MAKING ME VERY HUNGY!

I really love good food! I am everything I cook and everything I eat and over the years I have amassed a ridiculous amount of recipes, either in the form of the multitude of cookbooks I have or loose leaf recipes cut out of magazines and newspapers. I have pages of handwritten recipes that I originally typed on index cards and then transferred them to an excel spreadsheet program. These recipes are all of the ones I “stole” over the years, recipes that I made up after I went to a restaurant and fell in love with a dish and had to make it at home. I have had the ability for about 30 years to taste a dish and exactly duplicate it so those duplications of meals I’ve had at various restaurants of all kinds in many locations are part of the recipes I have created as recipes that I liked but felt they needed some “tweaking”, usually either to add or take out ingredients but also to take out steps and simplify the preparation, these make up most of the recipes I have created as well as a few that I just wanted something that I couldn’t find a recipe for so I made one. There are a great many recipes that I recreated from restaurants that are now out of business and I can’t go to them to eat those favorite dishes so I am now very grateful that I recreated those recipes so I can enjoy the dishes as well as recreate the memories of eating in those favorite restaurants when I was much younger and ate out a lot more than I do now. I have two dogs and several cats that make up my family and I feel guilty leaving them at home and going out to eat so I don’t. I know they own me and that’s alright with me because they love me and don’t talk back much! I decided it is time to consolidate all of these into one location, on my computer in the form of an organized cook book that I can just take out and easily look up a recipe. Just open up one cookbook that has my several hundred favorite recipes from the last 40 years, that way I can get rid of my blue notebook with hundreds of loose recipes that threaten to fall out every time I pick it up as well as my metal recipe card box crammed so full with index cards I have to take them out in order to look through them and last but not least my collection of 40 or more cookbooks that I only use 1 or 2 recipes out of most of them and none out of some of them and only one or 2 that I use often enough to keep. I have a feeling that they will more than last me for the next 20 years along with all of the things that I don’t need a recipe to cook. There are recipes for all kinds of cuisines, enough to make almost any “foodie” very satisfied.  I started cooking dinner for my family when I was in Junior High and some of the things I that I cooked were quite simple foods but some were fairly ambitious but as I have gotten older simple to make has won out more often than not, but simple just means the recipes are fairly easy to prepare, not that they are simple in their flavors. I decided if I haven’t made a recipe yet I am probably not going to and I am a lot more likely to go to one of my hundreds of favorite recipes which I can barely find time to cook than I am to cook one of the untried recipes. It sure has made me hungry to do all of this typing of recipes into my computer but it will be worth it when I am done. Food is the number one pleasure we all can share with each other and nothing feels much better than having a dinner party for 6 of my best friends and having them enraptured of the wonderful flavor sensations I have served them, how else can you get six people excited about the same thing at the same time? J Please try some of my recipes and tell me if you like them! I will post some of my personal favorites on my blog and I hope you enjoy them. I am going to start posting a recipe or 2 a day to see if I can get some feedback on my lifetime favorite recipes

FINDING MYSELF IN MEXICO!

PROLOGUE

Life can be a journey and a destination which is the case in my story as well as almost everyone else’s stories. When I was 27 my boyfriend and I felt like we were in need of a spiritual journey to get our lives back on track. It is not that we were totally off the rails, because by most people’s definition we probably weren’t, but most peoples’ opinions aren’t really the ones that count in the end. So based upon our strong work ethic that had been instilled in each of us at a young age and personal opinions about what we had recently been doing with our lives, which was that we were not living up to our own idea of what we should be and could be doing with our lives. It was not necessarily that we were anything wrong but then I guess that is really what we all have to live up to, our own personal expectations based upon the values we internalized while we were growing up. My boyfriend’s idea was to drive to Mexico to spend a month in a small fishing village my boyfriend had been to twice before I had ever met him to get our priorities back in order to our satisfaction. He was very enamored of this place and being he had already been there twice I trusted his opinion, I will say had I known at the beginning of the trip what I knew at the end I probably wouldn’t have gone but that really doesn’t matter because I didn’t know and I did go. I had only been to Mexico by way of a couple of walks into Tijuana from a parking lot in southern California to spend the day shopping and eating and then walking back to our car parked across the border, so my knowledge of the real Mexico was non-existent and my travel experiences were limited to mostly camping within two hours of where I lived, some three hours from where I lived visits to a few other places and a few 12 hour drives to a couple of places in western Canada and to three locations in southern California. So I would have to say my travel experience was very limited at that time. I will never call this trip a “vacation” but it was an experience I will never forget for a variety of reasons. This was my first time spending time with people living in a third world environment and it sure did make me appreciate all of the things I am privileged to enjoy living in the beautiful country of the United States of America.

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

Greg and I left Eugene on the 15th day of January around 9:00 in the morning on a Thursday and even though it is pretty much the dead of winter the day still turned very sunny not long after we left. We got out of foggy Oregon and into sunny California about noon. We were in search of the Giant Redwoods we both had read about that were supposed to be located near the northern coast of California. I remembered that as a child our family had driven from Ashland in Oregon over the border to California and we saw some very awesome trees and there are home movies to prove it, but I was very young and was not driving so I really didn’t remember how long we drove before we encountered those very large trees. We stopped at several places along the way but never found the giant trees we were looking for. We saw a herd of wild elk along the side of the road that we were driving on and because they were a different type of elk than we were used to seeing we stopped at the “roadside” attraction that advertised a place you were assured of viewing these elk and even though we had already obviously had seen the elk we stopped at the tourist area for them. At this place that the elk were advertised to be at we found a map showing that there were some very large redwoods we should encounter on the the road ahead of us and they looked like the trees we had set out to see on this part of our trip. That evening we stopped in Eureka to spend the night. We stayed at a Motel 6, it was the first one I had ever stayed in, mostly that was because most all of the places my family went to were campgrounds in the woods, the trailer my parents had bought and placed on the twenty acres they had purchased when I was around ten years old in central Oregon which we visited a lot and that I also visited with my friends without my parents when I was old enough to drive my own car. About the only times we ever stayed in a motel was when we went to Ashland to see plays at the Shakespearean Theatre there and we always stayed at the “Thunderbird” motel that was within walking distance of the theatre and had a swimming pool to keep us children occupied. That was pretty much the only motel we ever stayed in, when we went to the coast my parents always went with friends and those people always had campers to stay in at the camp grounds we stayed at with our camper as well so I was sort of a rookie when it came to staying at motels. When I was 19 I drove my new car, that I had purchased at 18 with money I had inherited from my real father dying in a plane wreck when I was a three year old, to Vancouver Canada with my boyfriend at the time but downtown Vancouver did not have any Motel 6’s and we stayed at an very large and old and expensive Hotel – at least it was expensive for my boyfriend and I but it was a really cool Hotel and we could walk to all sorts of neat restaurants from it so it was worth the price of admission. Things have probably changed as far as how Motel 6 locations accommodations go but this was 28 years ago and the room was what you would call a very “basic room”, it had a bed, a shower, two chairs and a table, a black and white television set which cost us 99 cents to use and there were no frills and I think I the room cost us $19.99. We were pretty low on personal energy after our first day on the road after driving for ten hours and making tourist and food stops along the way. We went to a Round Table  pizza parlor a couple of streets away, we didn’t have this chain yet in my home town so it was sort of a treat and I was so tired I didn’t really care what I ate as long as I ate. We went back to our room after eating the pizza and I don’t remember watching much on our 99 cent black and white television before I was asleep and sleeping soundly, we didn’t need any more frills than a bed that night for sure.

It is now Friday and our second day on the road. We drove for about an hour and a half on a road called the “Avenue of the Giants” and it was the location of the enormous redwoods we had been seeking and there were a lot amazingly gigantic redwood trees on this road and we even got to drive through a giant redwood with my car. I even have a photo to prove it. We got to San Francisco about 5:00 and we spent two very frustrating hours driving around looking for Greg’s sister Robin’s house. We had written instructions she had sent Greg so that we could easily find where she lived but none of the street’s matched up with where we were and when we stopped at a couple of gas stations to ask for directions none of the people spoke English, they were all oriental, which was more than a little frustrating. When I was so frustrated I was ready to tell Greg to just leave San Francisco without staying there, Greg stopped at a flower shop to see if they could tell him why the directions to Robin’s house didn’t work and he brought me a bouquet of carnations back to the car. This was the first time, that I remember so it probably was the very first time, he ever bought me flowers (and I was thinking probably the last) because he could tell I was about ready to kill him for his incredibly bad sense of direction or utter stupidity which at that time made no difference to me which item was the case. He had found out the reason the directions he had been sent by his sister didn’t work were because he had told his sister we were coming into town on the Bay Bridge and not the Golden Gate Bridge which we really came in on. This explained why none of the streets on her map made any sense, it didn’t explain his stupidity but that is a different issue for a different day. He once again attempted to find where his sister lived after having received new instructions from his sister, and the owner of the flower shop, when he called her on where to go based on where we had actually entered the town and I assumed from where we were now officially located. He then spent another hour being lost once again and finally called his sister and she met us where we ended up, at a Safeway store that Greg went in to call her to meet us and buy some alcohol before I really did kill him (joke – ha ha – sort of) which actually was fairly close to her house. She met us within fifteen minutes as we actually had ended up fairly close to where she lived the second attempt to find her and she led us back to her place. We went out to a bar that night which was called the “I-Beam”, it was a new wave kind of a place and Duran Duran had just played there. It was fairly weird. Here is a little of what I found about it on the internet: The I-Beam was a popular nightclub in San Francisco that was located in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood at 1748 Haight Street. Inside the I-Beam was shaped like a giant cube about forty feet on each side. There were Mylar covered cardboard I-Beams hanging from the ceiling above the center of the dance floor. At the entrance there were framed pictures of various astronomical objects such as galaxies and planets put there by former astronomer Sanford Kellman.  From 1980 to its end in 1992 Michael Garrett was the primary DJ—he played modern rock dance music by artists such as Madonna, Prince, New Order, The Cure, R.E.M., Nine Inch Nails, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, etc. The temperature inside the I-Beam was deliberately kept as warm as possible in order to encourage people to take off their shirts while they were dancing; sexual encounters in the bathrooms were a common occurrence.The crème de la crème of new wave, punk, industrial, and indie bands played the I-Beam from 1981 to 1992. Many well known groups played at the I-Beam such as Siouxsie & The Banshees, Killing Joke, Gun Club, The Chameleons UK, Clan of Xymox, Billy Bragg, Tones on Tail, The Pursuit of Happiness, Duran Duran, Nina Hagen, The Damned, The Church, The Fall, Faith No More, Gene Loves Jezebel, Flesh For LuLu, New Order, The Legendary Pink Dots, The Lemonheads, Meat Beat Manifesto, Ministry, Motörhead, Big Black, The Butthole Surfers, 10,000 Maniacs, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Firehose, Soundgarden, Trouble Funk, Alice in Chains, Counting Crows, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Soul Asylum, Camper Van Beethoven, Gwar, Henry Rollins Band, Jane’s Addiction, X, Primus, The Slits, Sugarcubes, Bush Tetras, The Bangles, Fear, Flipper, The Wipers, Wilma, The Mermen, Meat Puppets, fIREHOSE, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, The Rosemary’s, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Primitive Painters, T.S.O.L., Curve, Social Distortion, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Lloyds, Buck Naked and the Bare-Bottom Boys, and Chris Isaak.The I-Beam closed in 1994 after a long battle with neighbors over sound issues.

But it was not as weird as it seemed to be when we first walked in the place. There were a lot of gay people and what I guess what could be called ”punk” rockers and some people who looked like us as well, whatever that means!

The next day, Saturday, we went to a place I was told was a well-known cool place to go, for brunch at a place called “Bloody Mary’s” and it did have good drinks and we did have hang overs. Then we went to the Fisherman’s Wharf for a while and then we went to “Golden Gate Park”. It was a pretty cool place and had a very cool aquarium in in that had a Manatee; it was the first one of those I had ever seen in person. Actually it was the only one I have ever seen. We went to an excellent Greek restaurant for dinner and I had lamb baked in parchment paper for dinner. We then went back to Greg’s sister’s house and watched TV for the evening. Greg’s sister was pretty strange, it was the second time I had met her but the first time was only for one evening at Greg’s house when her and her brother and father flew to Eugene for Christmas a couple of years ago.

January 16, 1984

We left San Francisco at 9:00 in the morning. I can’t say I was unhappy to leave this confusing city. Today was not our day, we kind of followed Murphy’s Law of anything that can go wrong will! It was a pretty boring drive to Las Angeles. We stopped for lunch in a town called Coalinga, we had to drive ten miles off the freeway to get to it. It turned out that it wasn’t very big and was recovering from a major earthquake that had occurred in this area recently. We ended up eating at an A & W right off of the freeway after we toured Coalinga and found no place to eat and went back to I-5. We went another fifteen miles down the freeway only to find there were four restaurants there that any one of which would have been a better place to eat at, oh well, live and learn. Such is the nature of traveling to places you have never been before.

Next event for the day was unfortunately entering Las Angeles at 5:00 and ending up spending two hours stuck in rush hour traffic. I called a friend we were going to go visit and he was just leaving his house so we started towards Anaheim since we had already planned on visiting Disneyland the next day. After an extensive search for a motel we discovered upon checking in to the one we finally located that we liked that in the winter Disneyland is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s which of course the next two days. Greg was going to try and find a guy who owed him a lot of money who was supposed to live in Anaheim and discovered when he called the phone number the guy had given him that is was a bad number. Our consolation prize for the evening was that the motel was nice.

January 17

Since Disneyland was closed we went to Sea World instead. It was a really cool place. We got to see Shamu, I was expecting him to be a “hoakie” act and instead it was really a trip. He was a big ham and you could tell he really enjoyed performing. The whole place was fantastic and I got to pet a small whale and a dolphin, I am glad Disneyland was closed. We spent the night in a little motel called La Mesa near San Diego. We were super exhausted.

Greg & I Starting our trip to Mexico

Greg & I Starting our trip to Mexico

Motel 6 in Arcata, CA

January 17

Since Disneyland was closed we went to Sea World instead. It was a really cool place. We got to see Shamu, I was expecting him to be a “hoakie” act and instead it was really a trip. He was a big ham and you could tell he really enjoyed performing. The whole place was fantastic and I got to pet a small whale and a dolphin, I am glad Disneyland was closed. We spent the night in a little motel called La Mesa near San Diego. We were super exhausted.

January 18

We started our trek into Mexico today. We (I guess really I-since Greg doesn’t speak it at all and I took Spanish in Junior High, High School and 2 years of College) are having a little trouble picking up our Spanish but it is slowly coming back to me. We an interesting time getting across the border once we arrive in Sonora. First we had to stop in the immigration office and show proof of our citizenship, a driver’s license and voter’s registration card were all that were required, and then purchase “Mexican” insurance for my car so we didn’t get thrown in jail if someone decided to run into us. After we got our official papers we were stopped about two hours into Mexico, something Greg had already run into the first two times he drove down here, and depending on how rich you looked the Mexican police would tell you that you needed to pay a certain amount of money to continue on. While we were at the side of the road where the police ran their “mordida” (bribe) operation we saw a big motor home being totally searched and torn apart because the people refused to pay the “mordida” because it was illegal. We were smarter than that and paid the sum they asked which was about $20 for us as we were driving my pretty innocuous looking 1982 blue Mustang II with a four cylinder engine, not an expensive looking car and we were not dressed like we had money so it was a cheap price to pay for easy passage. We spent the night in a town called Sonata at a motel called the Excelsior and ate at the restaurant of the same name next to the motel. We had “Pollos Fritas” which is fried chicken, not exactly like the fried chicken I grew up on but it was edible and I was tired and hungry. The motel was even more basic than the motel 6 we stayed at in California, it had tile floors, a bad bed and it was very noisy all night long. It was the first exposure to a motel where the bathroom became your shower, literally as there were no shower curtains to keep the water out of the rest of the bathroom and the toilet paper was kept inside a plastic container so that it didn’t get wet when you took a shower. I had never experienced anything like it.

January 19

We are truly in Mexico now. I’m having trouble adjusting to eating at places that look like a literal hole in the wall. I guess if I wasn’t worried about coming down with Montezuma’s Revenge I wouldn’t be so bothered. There are some incredibly poor people in Mexico. When we stopped in some of the small towns on our way from Sonora small children would run to our car and want to sell us “Chiclets” gum or offer to pour water on our windshield and wash it off for a penny. It was a very depressing thing to witness. We stopped at a place for brunch and I had Tacos de Pollo and they were pretty good which did surprise me given the appearance of the place. We traveled all day, there is not much to see in the upper half of Mexico, there is a whole lot of desert there. We stopped for the night in Hermosillo. We stayed in a pretty funky motel, the worst we have stayed at by far.

Jan 20

This day is not starting out very good. It seems as if none of the vehicles in Mexico, or at least most of them anyway, do not have mufflers and they roared past our motel all night long. I didn’t get any sleep. I managed to wake Greg up at 6:30 so we just got and hit the road. We had breakfast at a restaurant o some sort about half way to Mazatlan. I had huevos rancheros, they were not too exciting but they were edible, and of course they came with the always present refried beans, in one of the many forms they come in. We got to Mazatlan about 5:00. It is a really pretty place on the beach. After a bit of searching we found a place to stay for 2800 pesos.

Me on the Mazatlan Motel Balcony

Me on the Mazatlan Motel Balcony

It was pretty nice and it had a little patio off our room where we could watch the ocean. It was called Las Brisas. We had a wonderful shrimp dinner, wonderful because my food standards are starting to change, at a place called “El Neys”. It cost 3000 pesos, which is about $20.00 for the whole dinner for two.  We were both pretty tired this evening and we didn’t make it up very late.

Jan 21

I had a pretty good night’s sleep last night for a change. I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping in a different place every night. Today I felt pretty good. We had a strange omelette for breakfast and then laid in the sun for a while. Then we got a good room (once again my standards have changed), at a pretty nice place for 2 nights for $2700 pesos a night. The place we stayed at last night was more fancy looking – but it had tile floors which I hate. I started my exercise program back up today finally. It was called the Sands Motel. It had a bar and restaurant. We went down to the market place in Mazatlan today. It is quite a place, you can buy almost anything. We had Mexican style “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for dinner tonight. It was pretty good although the pieces were cut rather oddly and the mashed potatoes were a bit strange but not too bad.

Jan 22

I didn’t sleep so good again last night, I can’t seem to get 2 good night’s sleep in a row. I am feeling a little frustrated because I don’t know where anything is or how to do anything. I am also getting tired of eating out all of the time but there is no choice because we have nothing to prepare food with. I am also getting tired of having lots of people around all of the time, I long for a little peace and quiet. It should be nice when we finally get to San Blas and can relax awhile. My nerves are getting a little tense, I need to get somewhere so I can get into some kind of a routine. I want to be somewhere I can get familiar with so I don’t have to wander around like an idiot all of the time. I kind of wanted to go to a bullfight today but it didn’t work out, oh well, it probably would have grossed me out anyway.

Jan 23

We left Mazatlan this afternoon and headed for San Blas. We got there at 4:30. The drive from Mazatlan to San Blas is very pretty. San Blas is in the jungle so there are a lot of exotic looking birds and foliage. We stayed at a really beautiful motel called “Las Brisas” (the same name as the one we stayed at for one night in Mazatlan) and we had a wonderful dinner at a place called “Restaurant McDonalds”. Mexico is a funny place, you never know what you are going to experience next. I guess that isn’t so different from life in general but being in a foreign country is a very foreign experience for me. This is also a very loud country and there are a lot of bad odors due to a lot of pollution in the cities, part of that comes from the fact that they don’t seem to require mufflers on any of the vehicles they drive down here which is probably mostly due to the extreme state of poverty that I have already seen in a short period of time.

Jan 24

It was kind of cloudy today, it has been that way for several days, we tried to lay out in the sun for awhile but it got so cloudy we had to give it up. We tried to find an apartment to stay in for the month that we plan on being here but had no luck in finding one today. Mexican motels have a strange arrangement for showers, usually there is no shower door and the whole bathroom becomes the shower once you turn the shower on. You have to put the toilet paper in another room because it will get totally screwed up by the water once you turn on the shower. I wonder if it is the same way at a private house but I imagine I will never know the answer to that question. You also can’t have your towel to dry off after your shower in the bath room so after you turn the shower off you then open the door and grab a dry towel from outside the bathroom. We went and looked up a local Mexican man named Jose Moreno that Greg had met from the other two times he came down to San Blas and he couldn’t find us a place to stay at. He did find us a cheaper motel that we could probably afford to live in for a month if we have to, it isn’t particularly nice but it it’s livable. We went to the “Restaurant McDonalds” for dinner again and ran into a couple we met there last night and asked if they knew about an apartment we could rent. Tonight they said they did know of a place for rent and we had a few beers with them and walked around town with them looking for the man they thought had a place we could rent. We never did find him but they said to come by their place the next day and they would help us find him again.

Jan 25

Last night I had another bad night because of still fighting what is called Montezuma’s Revenge which really just means a bug you catch that causes diarrhea. There was a very loud Mexican party that started about 2:00 am and at around 4:00 am someone set of fireworks for about an hour. All in all I got about 2 hours of sleep all night long. We went over to David and Carl’s this morning and after a lot of searching we found Rafael, who spoke perfect English fortunately for us. He showed us a beautiful little place and only wanted $150.00 for a month and we took it. We were really lucky to get it we thought, it was clean and cute. We went out to dinner at a place called “El Torino”, it was good and they made a good bloody Mary. Our whole dinner including our drinks cost us around $10.00. We have had quite a few dinners for not very much money. We stocked up our kitchen this evening so we can quit eating every meal out at a restaurant, it is getting very boring.

Torino Bar in San Blas

Torino Bar in San Blas

Adventures In Mexico!

I started this under as: My Incredibly Strange Trip Driving To Mexico

but I have now transcribed all of the journal entries I made or this adventure and I am going to post the newly written journey that this was under the title of:

FINDING MYSELF IN MEXICO

So if you enjoyed reading Adventures in Mexico please check out my book in progress that is posted on this blog as:

FINDING MYSELF IN MEXICO

When I was 27 my boyfriend and I were in need of a spiritual journey to get our lives back on track. We chose driving to Mexico to spend a month in a small fishing village my boyfriend had been to twice before I had ever met him. He was very enamored of this place and being he had already been there twice I trusted his opinion. I had only been to Mexico by way of a couple of walks into Tijuana from a parking lot in southern California to spend the day shopping and eating and then walking back to our car parked across the border, so my knowledge of the real Mexico was non-existent. I will never call this trip a “vacation” but it was an experience I will never forget for a variety of reasons. This was my first time spending time with people living in a third world environment and it sure did make me appreciate all the things I am privileged to enjoy living in the beautiful country of the United Stated of America.

January 15, 1984

Today is the fourth day on the road and the first day without the sun.  We left at 9:00 Thursday morning four days before I am writing this. We got out of foggy Oregon and into sunny California about noon. We were in search of the Giant Redwoods on the coast. We stopped at several places along the way but never found the giant trees we were looking for. We did see a herd of wild elk along the side of the road. At the same place that the elk were at we found a map showing that there were big redwoods to come that looked like the ones we wanted to see. That evening we stopped in Eureka for the night. We stayed at a Motel 6, the first one I‘ve ever been in. It was what you could call your “basic room”, it had a bed, a shower, two chairs and a table, a black and white television which cost 99 cents to use and there were no frills. We were pretty low on personal energy after our first day on the road starting at 9:00 in the morning and ending ten hours later. We went to a pizza parlor a couple of streets away and went to bed and slept soundly, we didn’t need any more frills than a bed.

On Friday, the second day on the road, we drove for about an hour and a half on a road called the “Avenue of the Giants”. It was the location of the enormous redwoods we had been seeking and there were a lot amazingly gigantic redwood trees on this road and we even got to go drive through a giant redwood with my car. We got to San Francisco about 5:00 and we spent two very frustrating hours driving around looking for Greg’s sister Robin’s house. We had written instructions she has sent Greg so that we could easily find where she lived but none of the street’s matched up with where we were and when we stopped at a gas station to ask directions none of the people spoke English, they were all oriental. When I was so frustrated I was ready to tell Greg to just leave San Francisco without staying there, Greg stopped at a flower shop to see if they could tell him why the directions to Robin’s house didn’t work and he brought me a bouquet of carnations back to the car. This was the first time he ever bought me flowers (and I was thinking probably the last) because he could tell I was about ready to kill him for his incredibly bad sense of direction and also because he found out the reason the directions didn’t work was because he had told his sister we were coming into town on the Bay Bridge and not the Golden Bridge, which explained why none of the streets on her map made any sense. He once again attempted to find where his sister lived after having received new instructions on where to go based on where we came to town. He then spent another hour being lost and finally called his sister and she met us where we ended up, which actually was fairly close to her house, and she led us back to her place. We went out to a bar that night which was called the “I-Beam”, it was a new wave kind of a place and Duran Duran had just played there. It was fairly weird but not as weird as it seemed to be when we first walked in the place. There were a lot of gay people and what I guess what could be called ”punk” rockers and some people who looked like us as well, whatever that means!

Me and the Avenue of the Giants sign

Me and the Avenue of the Giants sign

The next day, Saturday, we went to a place I was told was a well known cool place to go for brunch called “Bloody Mary’s” and it did have good drinks and we did have hang overs. Then we went to the Fisherman’s Wharf for awhile and then we went to “Golden Gate Park”. It was a pretty cool place and had a very cool aquarium in in that had a Manatee, it was the first one of those I had ever seen in person. We went to an excellent Greek restaurant for dinner, I had lamb baked in parchment paper for dinner. We then went back to Greg’s sister’s house and watched TV for the evening. Greg’s sister was pretty strange, it was the second time I had met her but the first time was only for one evening at Greg’s house when her and her brother and father flew to Eugene for Christmas a couple of years ago.

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

January 16, 1984

We left San Francisco at 9:00 in the morning. I can’t say I was unhappy to leave this confusing city. Today was not our day, we kind of followed Murphy’s Law of anything that can go wrong will! It was a pretty boring drive to Las Angeles. We stopped for lunch in a town called Coalinga, we had to drive ten miles off the freeway to get to it. It turned out that it wasn’t very big and was recovering from a major earthquake that had occurred in this area recently. We ended up eating at an A & W right off of the freeway after we toured Coalinga and found no place to eat and went back to I-5. We went another fifteen miles down the freeway only to find there were four restaurants there that any one of which would have been a better place to eat at, oh well, live and learn. Such is the nature of traveling to places you have never been before.

Next event for the day was unfortunately entering Las Angeles at 5:00 and ending up spending two hours stuck in rush hour traffic. I called a friend we were going to go visit and he was just leaving his house so we started towards Anaheim since we had already planned on visiting Disneyland the next day. After an extensive search for a motel we discovered upon checking in to the one we finally located that we liked that in the winter Disneyland is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s which of course the next two days. Greg was going to try and find a guy who owed him a lot of money who was supposed to live in Anaheim and discovered when he called the phone number the guy had given him that is was a bad number. Our consolation prize for the evening was that the motel was nice.

January 17

Since Disneyland was closed we went to Sea World instead. It was a really cool place. We got to see Shamu, I was expecting him to be a “hoakie” act and instead it was really a trip. He was a big ham and you could tell he really enjoyed performing. The whole place was fantastic and I got to pet a small whale and a dolphin, I am glad Disneyland was closed. We spent the night in a little motel called La Mesa near San Diego. We were super exhausted.

Sea World and Shamu

Sea World and Shamu

January 18

We started our trek into Mexico today. We (I guess really I-since Greg doesn’t speak it at all and I took Spanish in Junior High, High School and 2 years of College) are having a little trouble picking up our Spanish but it is slowly coming back to me. We an interesting time getting across the border once we arrive in Sonora. First we had to stop in the immigration office and show proof of our citizenship, a driver’s license and voter’s registration card were all that were required, and then purchase “Mexican” insurance for my car so we didn’t get thrown in jail if someone decided to run into us. After we got our official papers we were stopped about two hours into Mexico, something Greg had already run into the first two times he drove down here, and depending on how rich you looked the Mexican police would tell you that you needed to pay a certain amount of money to continue on. While we were at the side of the road where the police ran their “mordida” (bribe) operation we saw a big motor home being totally searched and torn apart because the people refused to pay the “mordida” because it was illegal. We were smarter than that and paid the sum they asked which was about $20 for us as we were driving my pretty innocuous looking 1982 blue Mustang II with a four cylinder engine, not an expensive looking car and we were not dressed like we had money so it was a cheap price to pay for easy passage. We spent the night in a town called Sonata at a motel called the Excelsior and ate at the restaurant of the same name next to the motel. We had “Pollos Fritas” which is fried chicken, not exactly like the fried chicken I grew up on but it was edible and I was tired and hungry. The motel was even more basic than the motel 6 we stayed at in California, it had tile floors, a bad bed and it was very noisy all night long. It was the first exposure to a motel where the bathroom became your shower, literally as there were no shower curtains to keep the water out of the rest of the bathroom and the toilet paper was kept inside a plastic container so that it didn’t get wet when you took a shower. I had never experienced anything like it.

More to be posted as I transfer my handwritten travel diary to my computer!

Looking for Signs of Life on the Internet!

From recent news it seems obvious there are a lot of people who feel like they are alone, or are lonely, or isolated for mental or physical reasons. I don’t really think that most of us really want to be alone but for various reasons we sometimes find it difficult to find a place to meet other people we feel comfortable sharing some of our personal issues with. A great many people are turning to the internet to help fill this void, and as if you need proof of that there is the current high profile case of the young football player who said he had been in a relationship with a girl on the internet for over a year or longer until it ended with his being led to believe she had died. He may or may not have been the victim of a deception of some kind for some as yet unknown reason on someone’s part to imitate a girl that wasn’t real. It really doesn’t matter if it was a hoax on someone else’s part, because for him the relationship was real and it was the result of his finding a friend on the internet and having what he felt was a real relationship. Relationships that are not sincere or real happen with real live flesh and blood humans quite often as well, so the idea of a false internet relationship is no less believable than having something had similar happen in real life, because after all anything that happens to you in your life is real for you. There is also the case of the young man who had this happen to him a few years ago and he made a movie about it and now has a television show in which he is trying to help other people who are involved with fairly long term relationships on the internet that the other person seems to be trying to avoid meeting them.  Yesterday I was watching the morning TV show I usually watch and it said that 75% of the 55 million single people are turning to the internet to find dates, so we are not only looking for signs of life we are also looking for love on the internet.  This makes the internet an even more powerful force than it already was.

So it obviously appears that more and more people are turning to the internet to fill some kind of void in their life and it can just be to make contact with others and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are looking for romance but they are looking for a human to share feelings with, one that will hopefully understand what they are feeling.  It does help us all to talk about the things that are on our minds, good and bad, and this is not just my opinion or there wouldn’t be therapists and meetings of groups of people who have some issue in common they want or need to share with others by talking about their life.  You can meet real people on the internet and the site I am writing about is the best place I know to do it!

I was going through a rather rough patch a couple of months ago and this project, the one I am presenting to you in this manuscript, is what resulted after an afternoon of googling on my computer.  I was home alone (this has been my normal for several years) with my animal buddies that are the roommates that I live with, and I started randomly typing phrases for all the feelings I was going through at that time in the “Google” search engine box on my computer.  Most of the searches turned up definitions for one or two of the words I had used in my description, which was not at all what I was looking for and I found nothing helpful in trying to find someone to talk to about what I was going through.  You might ask why I didn’t go to a meeting of live humans to talk to.  It is because there is no group for the issues a lot of us go through if we are not an alcoholic, a drug addict, or into religious things.  Not that I can say I actually knew exactly what I was looking for, which is the case for a lot of us “human beans”.  The date was November 19, 2012 and I was trying to find a way to connect with other people going through some of the same type of physical and emotional trauma that I had been dealing with.  Then out of nowhere I really got a hit that gave me a link to one of the emotional phrases I had been typing typed into the search box, this one was “I need someone to talk to” and much to my amazement there was what looked like a promising link to click on.  So of course I did.  This was the way the link showed up on the page:  I Need Someone to Talk to – Experience Project Have You Need Someone To Talk To? Join 20418 friendly people sharing 5288 true stories in the I Need Someone to Talk to group. Find forums, advice and http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Need-Someone-To-Talk-To/4603.  I followed that link and found this site’s concept fascinating and have now posted around a hundred stories or experiences and I belong to one hundred and fifteen of what this site calls groups which are groups based on shared experiences.  I have met some interesting people and have also written words of my experiences trying to help some of them who are younger and haven’t lived long enough to realize a lot of their angst just is part of living and really will get better, even if things sometimes seem hopeless.  There are members of EP that have been involved with the site for several years and belong to hundreds or thousands of groups, there are people who have written hundreds of stories and people who have only written a few. There are people joining every day and many are finding that there is no better place to share the things in life that bind all of us together.

The Experience Project is a social networking site, like Facebook and MySpace are, its big difference is that it is one that is based on what you know and have experienced in life as opposed to who you know. They say on their promotional information that over five million people use the site. In this story I am writing what I am going to share with you here is the stories/experiences that I have written to share with the members of this site, as well as some of the comments and support I have gotten back from them.  I hope I can intrigue and entice you enough that you will join in this experience of sharing your varied experiences with the world and maybe take away a feeling that maybe we all live in the same world and should and can help each other in trying to cope with all the wacky things that life can throw at you.  EP is not intended as a hook up site but as a way to help yourself and others connect with all the other people in the world that we have something in common with.  That being said it doesn’t mean you can’t meet someone on the site only that it isn’t the site’s primary reason for existing. I have found that the people using this site are aware of the fragile state of some of the users psyche and almost all make polite and encouraging comments most of the time, which shows this site to have above average users because of their sensitivity.

Looking For Signs Of Life On The Internet

Looking For Signs Of Life On The Internet

 

My Girlfriend And I Were Very Busy Entrepreneurs When We Were In Grade School!

MARY LOU AND ME!

My best friend from 3 to 13 was my neighbor Mary Lou.  We were inseparable for those 10 years and did everything together and liked to do the same things until we got older and went our separate ways but I still have very fond memories of us as children.  Our parents bought us horses and we went riding together all the time but we also shared a lot of other interests as well.  We were very busy children and quite the entrepreneurs when we were in grade school.

I have always loved to read and so did Mary Lou and when we were in grade school our school had a program in which you could purchase paperback novels, and other kinds of books as well, fairly inexpensively so my mother and her mother gave us an allowance to buy a lot of books, they were not very expensive back in the “good”, or at the very least, “old days”.  I am sure our parents thought it was a healthy activity for us to do and it was. After we were done reading them there really wasn’t a lot to do with them other than to put them on our bookshelves but after awhile, after we had accumulated quite a lot of books, and being that we were pretty busy outgoing children that were always looking for something to keep our “little minds” occupied, we had the brilliant idea to set up a library in my girlfriend’s father’s shop. We made a list of all of our books, we had quite a lot of them between the two of us and we also used our parents books as well, and we made a library card for each book and took an index card box with blank cards in it and went door to door in our neighborhood and asked the neighbors if they wanted to join our library and being the good neighbors they were (times were much simpler and more innocent than they are now) many of them joined our “library” for a fee of course. It was a very long time ago so I don’t remember the exact fee we charged to become a member of our library but we did charge one, the amount of ten cents comes to mind but I won’t swear by that amount but I do remember we had fees for late returned books of 3 cents so I would imagine 5 or 10 cents were one of the likely amounts we charged to be a member of our library.  I am sure most of the neighbors probably joined our library because they thought it was cute and most probably didn’t “check” out any books but we did have quite a few of our neighbors with their names on the index cards we had in the file box, and some did come into our little library and “check” out books from us. This was one of many projects Mary Lou and I did to make very small amounts of money – not that we thought it was a small amount of money at the time. We also put on a play for the neighbors that we acted out with another girlfriend of ours, it was called the “Three Witches” and we sold tickets to it and performed it using a big cool old oak tree in my girlfriend’s parents yard for our stage and sold snacks and beverages at intermission (which I imagine our parents made for us to sell) – I still have a copy of the three page play that we put on. We also talked our parents into letting us take the extra vegetables from their gardens, the vegetables that our parents had grown too many of for our families to be able to eat all of them (which they would have just given to our other neighbors if they hadn’t had busy little daughters like Mary Love and I)  so they let us take them and artfully arrange them in boxes on our little red wagon and once a week we hauled that wagon around to the neighbors and sold them to the neighbors for big bucks!  Big bucks to us anyway, something like a dime for a bag of carrots and I remember the really popular items were the beautiful artichokes that we got about 6 of a week to sell that went for “really” big bucks, like a 25 cents an artichoke, until we ran out of the vegetables that our parents had allowed us to sell out of their gardens each week during the summer. What silly little girls we were. I do have very fond memories of our little neighborhood library, and selling vegetables and fruit from the “little red wagon”.   I even found one of my books from it when I was cleaning out old stuff in my house not that long ago and it still had the “library check out card” in it!  We were very industrious children.  One time our school had a visitor who spoke to the school in an assembly and offered any of the children at the school to receive 1,000 small paper garbage bags (they were printed by a local lumber and paper mill with an advertisement for what was the fledgling business of recycling at that time) for your car that all we had to do was send a postcard request, they provided the postcards, to that local business named “Weyerhaeuser” and they delivered 1,000 small paper garbage bags to Mary Lou and I’s houses (or I guess more accurately they were delivered to our parent’s houses) much to our delight.  They were stamped with the recycling promotional information on them that “Weyerhaeuser” was trying to build a good reputation for (there were some people in the community that weren’t too fond of the odors that the pulp mill put out which was the reason for their attempt to gain good will in the community) and  the reason they were given away in the first place –but they were indeed free, all 2,000 of them were ours to sell to our wonderful neighbors who could have just as easily have asked for 2,000 free little garbage bags if they had wanted to.  Since there was no way we needed them since we were in grade school and rode bicycles (and I am sure there was no way our parents wished to have to use all of them or store them while it took them who knows how long to use them us as “garbage” bags in their cars) we put the 2,000 little flat paper garbage bags, that had a little opening on them so they could be hung from the window handle of a car (this was way before power windows were the norm) which is what made them garbage bags for cars, in our little red wagon – the same one that we also used to haul the vegetables we sold- and went door to door and sold the neighbors bundles of 25 garbage bags 5 cents and 50 for a dime, not too bad of a profit considering “Weyerhaeuser” gave them to us for free!  The only other thing I remember (and I do stress the word remember) my girlfriend and I did to make money was on Saturdays when they showed movies at noon on a local television station that were more or less family oriented movies, like “Creature From The Black Lagoon, and “The Blob” – the originals I have to add, we would ride our bicycles to the store and buy candy that could be broken up and sold in separate pieces for a “slight” mark up and make popcorn and sell it to the younger neighbor kids who would come over to “my” house to watch the movies on the television that my parents had put in the family room so they could watch their shows in peace in the living room and we had the privacy of watching movies with “no adults” around.  We also bought big bottles of pop and sold glasses of it to go along with the candy and popcorn.  Did anyone else do any of these kinds of things to make money when they were children?  I guess you could say I was either a young entrepreneurial kid or these were my first jobs!

Mary Lou, me and her dog "Peppi".

Mary Lou, me and her dog “Peppi”.

UP TO THE EDGE AND OVER: A Tribute To My Friend Mark Williams #70

Mark Williams In April 1975

Mark Williams In April 1975

There is a you tube video of # 70, Mark Williams racing at San Jose, CA-He is in the 1st and 4th race and about halfway through the video you can clearly see # 70 come around the corner into the camera twice. It is also the same track that he broke his back at. Here is the address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC6trfdDIyc

I doubt there are very many people my age that don’t remember the lines from “Brian’s Song” that begin the movie which is a quote from Ernest Hemingway, “that every true story ends in death. Well, this is a true story.” Well this quote wasn’t exactly accurate because this is actually what Ernest Hemingway wrote in Chapter 11 of his 1932 novel, “Death in the Afternoon,” “All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true story teller who would keep that from you.” Well that is a very true statement but not nearly as dramatic as the interpretation of it that was in the movie “Brian’s Song”. I always knew that my friendship with Mark Williams would end in his dying before me, if it was to be of natural causes, which is what happened, his body gave out after 36 years of being paralyzed from the waist down. But this was in addition to the 25 years he lived before the accident that claimed the use of his legs, this brave man who lived life on his own terms to its bitter end at 61 years of age, despite, or perhaps because of, doctors telling him that people who sustained the type of injuries he had only had a likelihood of living five years. Well, instead of depressing him and giving up, it really pissed him off that they told him that and he proceeded to live another 36 years just so he could tell them they were freaking wrong!

Mark Allen Williams died at 61 years of age after having lived a very full life, one that was full before the accident he had that paralyzed him from the waist down at the age of 25. Mark was born on January 14, 1951 and by the age of 15 he was a professional flat track motorcycle racer and a year later he was earning around $24,000. He was nationally ranked at the age of 19 and he became a “national number” in 1970. He made a lot of money and he lived life large and in the fast lane. He bought a house with an in ground swimming pool and got married.

Mark Williams Swimming Pool

He continued on making a name for himself in the world of AMA racing and he attained the official position of number one in the nation in April of 1975, at the age of 25, and appeared on the cover of AMA magazine. In September of 1975 he was running a practice lap for the one-mile National Dirt Track Championships in San Jose, California, when he hit a wet spot on the track while traveling at a speed of around 125 miles per hour on the recently watered dirt track. He started to slide and all he remembered was trying to get away from the motorcycle. He didn’t get away from the motorcycle and he ended up smashing into a wall. The wreck broke his back in several places and he all he remembered after he started to wreck was being in the ambulance and someone telling the driver that they better hurry if he was going to make it to the hospital alive. After spending a month in a San Jose hospital and another month in a Portland, Oregon rehabilitation center he was out of the hospital to try and learn how to live being paralyzed from the waist down. He pushed his wife away and since he had money he set out to try and find a “cure”. He went to the Philippines tried “faith healers”, the ones that are supposed to be able to put their bare hands inside your body, he was desperate to not be paralyzed but all of his searching for a cure was to come to his having to deal with the fact that he was never ever going to walk again. He then started what would be his string of interests for the next 31 years, buying and riding anything that could go fast. The first thing he bought was a racing sailboat, which is something he was doing when I first met him and when he invited me to go on that boat with our mutual friends I fell in love with sailing and Mark and I started a beautiful friendship that lasted until he died.

Mark's J24Sailboat

Mark’s J24Sailboat

He also took up riding snowmobiles and even though he couldn’t through use his legs to throw his snowmobile around to guide around the corners at a hundred miles an hour he had impressive upper body strength and his natural racing ability from motorcycles allowed him to leave able bodied people behind him in his wake. I went riding behind him one time and it scared me to ride blind around the corners of the trails through the woods at the speed of 90 miles per hour which is what he called taking it easy because I was sitting on the snowmobile behind him. I passed on doing that again, once was enough, but Mark continued to ride snowmobiles for twenty years. He also took up Kart racing, riding four wheelers through the woods and at the beach, if it had a motor and Mark could ride it he did and he continued living a full and busy life for the 31 years after he was paralyzed.  Living that long after becoming paralyzed was something doctors constantly told him wouldn’t happen and that he should only expect to live 5 to 10 years after having that life changing wreck.  The fact that those doctors kept telling him that “really pissed him off” and if it is possible I think that he lived to be 61 years old was to prove them wrong because he thought that their telling him he was going to die was a really crappy thing for a doctor to do, and I agree with him!

I have a million memories of the life and times we spent together and because I think his life and indomitable spirit to continue to live life in the “fast” lane even after he crashed and burned should be an inspiration to everyone to not give up just because you are told you should.  Mark told me stories about his life before the accident as a teenager who loved to ride his motorcycle way too fast in the little town he was born in and onto many stories of life being a young professional athlete that spent a lot of time on the road.

I am writing this story about Mark so I can document his inspirational life for others as well as so I can enjoy reliving the experiences I had with him in the retelling of the great adventures as well as the everyday life of one of the best friends I will ever have.

His death has created a very large gap in my life that will never be fully filled because we spent an average of four days a week together for a minimum of a couple of hours and frequently the whole day doing fun things like swimming in his pool with friends, playing board games with those friends all evening long, sailing on his sailboat, we would go for drives in the car and go to car shows, he bought a drift boat to go fishing in the rivers, he bought a jet boat to go fishing in the ocean and to go fast on the lake.  We became very good friends, through good times and bad ones and through thick and thin, from almost the very day we first met and that never changed until he died.  Maybe by accident or some kind of grand design I am not privy to, the 21st of January is a date which several events in my life have occurred on.  My father was born on that day in 1925 and he died thirty five years later on January 20th, just one day short of his 35th birthday in a plane crash.  My sister’s youngest son was born on his grandfather’s birthday, January 21, in the year 1989.  Just coincidence but I have wondered if it is a “cosmic” coincidence though that is not what I am writing about.

Back to remembering my friend Mark and the very full and busy life he led.  The reason I call this piece up to the edge and over is because that is how he lived his life. It is also how he taught me to ride an ATV at the sand dunes one afternoon, he paid for an afternoon for the two of us to go the coast and ride on the dunes as a birthday present to me and also as a way to go do something he enjoyed doing also, seems like a good way to go to me and Mark did invite friends to go do things with him and he would buy just so he could buy himself a good time since he couldn’t do those things by himself once he was in a wheelchair. It really was a win-win because Mark had money that he knew he would not live long enough to run out of and most people didn’t have enough money to indulge in the kinds of toys Mark loved to play on, fast boats, cars, snowmobiles and pretty much anything else with a motor. I had never ridden a motorized item with hand controls ever before we went to the Oregon dunes to ride them. We stopped at the little office and parking lot the company had right near the dunes and signed our “waiver” and showed them our drivers’ licenses and then we were off riding the two blocks from the rental office to the bottom of the miles of sand dunes we were about to ride on. When we got to the start of the dunes and I looked up at the approximately 20’ immediate climb from the parking lot I was very intimidated. Mark was first, of course, and he started roaring up and his ATV sputtered and he came back down and told me that we needed to go back to the office and have them bring another ATV out for him to ride. So we rode the two blocks back and I was starting to get the hang of operating the hand controls for the gas much better than when I started out. We were told they needed to go to where they kept the rest of the ATV’s and pick up another one and it would take about 30 to 40 minutes so since it was about 11:30 by now we were hungry so we went to a little restaurant and bar about 5 minutes away to get something to eat and have a cocktail. We had some great clam chowder and I had a Bloody Mary, Mark had a Crown Royal and 7-Up (the only drink he liked other than a strawberry daiquiri by his swimming pool in the summer) and then went back to ride the ATV’s again. After having ridden the little bit I had already done, and after having one drink of liquid courage, I was way more confident driving down the road to the mighty dunes and when Mark took his ATV up the dunes I followed him and much to my surprise it was much easier than I had feared earlier. After we got to the top of the dunes Mark very seriously explained safety tips to me, and the one that was the most important was the one that inspired the title of this story. He told me to ride up to the edge of the dunes, stop and look at what is down the other side and then proceed on. This was his approach to most “obstacles” he faced in his life.  There are many fun stories about Mark I wish to share eventually but for now I am just now coming to terms with his presence I miss so much being gone from my life and want to share with others who didn’t know him some the indomitable spirit in which he faced going from a life of riding on a motorcycle as a professional racer riding at speeds over a hundred miles an hour to being a young man forced to live life on the 4 little tires on a wheelchair that didn’t go fast enough for his taste and doing so with an unbreakable thrill seeking attitude and virtually never feeling sorry for himself and to quote from Brian’s Song “How he did live!”.  Here’s to you my dear friend, may you forever ride fast wherever you may now be roaming!

Mark Williams walking San Jose Track

Mark Williams walking San Jose Track before he wrecked on the track!