Aluminum Ornithology

As a plane geek, I love living near Pt. Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station. There’s always something exciting flying around. 

One day a Marine Corps OV-22 Osprey will fly over. Last week, it was an Air Force E-3 Sentry AWACS. Over the past month, I’ve seen a Coast Guard HC-130J, several flights of Navy F/A-18 Hornets, E-2 Hawkeyes, Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphins, and Air National Guard C-130Js.

Happy/happy/happy.

Home on the Range

My favorite tent ever. Retro look, seven feet long, easy up, easy down, weighs two pounds, fits into a bag the size of a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, and set me back a whopping $52 delivered.

I should buy two.

Winter Morning Music

red and orange solar flare
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Standing under a heater vent blowing 70-degree air on me, I still get goosebumps listening to Ed Sheeran singing “I See Fire” from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Removed we may be from the foothills of Erebor, but we never seem far from the breath of the great drake.

For there are days beneath brown hills, Santannas blowing dry from the Northeast bending the palms and sending crackles of static through hair and wool, when if you listen closely, you can hear the chuckle of the Old Wyrm amidst the howling tempest, and your breath stops, waiting in dread for the ridges to explode in flame.

Patchology: Saddleback Butte

As the Summer turns to fall, the shores turn chill and the hillsides to tinder, the eyes of the camper (and Scoutmaster) turn toward the desert. October through March is prime camping time in California’s arid regions. Days are comfortable, nights are chilly but not arctic, and enough animals are active during the day to make hiking more than a long walk.

One of my favorite places in the desert is Saddleback Butte State Park, a modest, Joshua Tree-girt peak located in the heart of a triangle between Palmdale, Victorville, and Edwards Air Force Base. The campsites are mostly primitive, but there are toilets and showers, making extended stays possible.

I have been twice, and only on the last trip – in early 2020 – was I in the kind of shape to take on the crest of the Butte. It’s about a 1,200′ rise in about 4 miles, but the altitude is enough to tucker someone in poor shape, and the last 100 feet is a scramble not far from some fairly sheer cliffs. Summiting this modest promontory was more satisfying that I had imagined it would be, and vistas from Palmdale to east to Victorville and Edwards south to the ridges behind Wrigtwood on a bright and clear day were a huge payoff. I only regret not having taking better pictures.

I rewarded myself and my scouts with the above patch, purchased from the park gift shop in a trailer at the north end of the park, just as I had watched my predecessor do on our last trip.

This will go on a brag rag of some sort, either a blanket or a shirt. Either way, it is a favorite. I hope to go back soon: the campground is a delight and worth the drive.

Patchology: Hometown Heroes

I grew up watching Emergency! from age seven to fourteen, alternating throughout between a simple buff and wanting to be a firefighter. It seems I have chosen the former path, and as a part of that collect patches of fire departments that are relevant to me.

This shoulder patch, worn by the Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics in the show, naturally belongs at the top of my collection, since it commemorates when my fascination with firefighting began.

Mugology: The Pie Hole

There are few problems finding a great burrito, an excellent burger, or a decent pizza in LA: just ask a local and they’ll point you in the right direction. Good savory pies, though, are another matter.

I bought this mug to remind myself that the nearest veggie pie is just a few blocks from Vroman’s bookstore – or the DTLA Arts district.

The reverse says “Happiness: one cup at a time.”

Highway Six, Unvisited

Old US 6, north of Los Angeles

Hovering near the top of my bucket list are a series of road trips I want to take that retrace the old US highway system. I even have a dream about writing a guidebook on the subject.

Of course, traveling Route 66 is on there, but there are at least a dozen overlooked byways that failed to inspire popular songs yet cut America into revealing cross-sections. One of those journeys is US Route 6, the Grand Army of the Republic Highway running from Provincetown, MA to Long Beach, CA.

Almost as much as any of our heritage roads, Route 6 captured my imagination. The short stretch of the old highway that I have driven so far – from San Fernando, California to Palmdale, California – evoked an epiphany. If you want to drive through America, do it on an Interstate. But if you want to drive to America, do it on a road less – or no longer much – traveled. The history, culture, and beauty wantonly bypassed by the brilliant but artless Interstate system begs for rediscovery, appreciation, and chronicling. Plus, the food is better, and the people more real.

Planning has begun. More as it evolves.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑