Mugology: Beating Denny’s

When I was a kid, we always looked forward to meals on our summer road trips. We knew that, if nothing else, there was Denny’s.

Denny’s is not what it used to be, but when we hit the road beyond California, there is Cracker Barrel. CB’s menu, quality, and service makes it easy to forget the other roadside chains. It’s like Howard Johnson’s, only…country.

Ghost Songs on the Gila

I was early on the day I visited, a mid-winter weekday after the holidays. It was in the low 40s with a brisk wind. Apart from a ranger and a docent trying really hard to stay warm, I was alone. I walked the site slowly, almost tiptoeing, to sustain the quiet.

The wind freshened as it shifted a few degrees, and I heard a low keening come from the ruin. I froze in place, listening intently, turning my head. I was in the center of the site, and it was one of those moments when you feel like you, like Billy Pilgrim, have become unstuck in time.

The interaction of the wind, the ruin, and the rafters of the shelter were interacting to play tricks on me, I rationalized. It’s nothing.

As I looked back toward the ruin, I saw a jackrabbit close by. He was on his haunches, regarding me. I regarded him back. We continued this for about a minute. Then I lost the contest, turning to look again at the ruin, but when I turned back toward the jackrabbit, he had vanished, and the keening stopped.

I heard a car door slam, and a family, bundled against the cold, began walking my way. The spell broken, I headed into the gift shop to warm my ears and buy the postcard in the photo.

Watch Over the Butterfield

Located in a remote and picturesque vale in the Chiricahua Mountains in Southern Arizona, Fort Bowie is an overlooked treasure among the National Park system. It’s all about the history here, but there is so much natural beauty you could turn your back on the fort and just enjoy the site for the feeling of being in a protected mountain stronghold.

Casa Grande

I lived in Arizona for nearly two years, and though I consider myself more attuned to local history than your average bloke, I never understood what “Hohokam” meant.

In a few hours at Casa Grande, mercifully unburdened by children or other distractions, I walked through a door into a culture that had for centuries irrigated and cultivated the Gila and Salt River basins. The day was clear but icy cold, keeping the numbers of visitors down.

Overhaul

In the waiting room at Nissan while my baby gets a checkup. Air, oil, filters, fluids, rotation, alignment, and a full diagnostic. I don’t know what we’ll encounter on the road, but we’ll both be healthy when we begin.

Mugology: Got Kicks?

Item #232 on my Bucket List is a trip on Route 66 from Michigan Drive in downtown Chicago to the pier in Santa Monica, sticking as closely as possible to the original routing.

Clearly, this is a drive I will not be taking in Winter.

I reckon it is still a year or two off. I am staying off the road until the nation has worked out its collective post-COVID cabin-fever. You don’t take a road trip to find yourself in traffic, and since I am now in a position to travel mid-week and off season, I am dodging all of that.

In the meantime, I have my mug.

Haidilao midnight snack

Indulging in a late-night hot pot without having to constantly check email, worry about a 6am call, or think about what I need to get done when I get back to my hotel is an unaccustomed luxury.

That said, I will still be up early to ensure her ladyship opens her eyes to behold a Philz Soymilk latte.

One Week In, Not On The Road Yet

I pulled out this picture of the northern approach to the old Ridge Route (looking south into Grapevine Canyon) as a sort of talisman, a charm if you will, in the hope that it would help me in my effort to get started on my list of road trips before age, global warming, or TEOTWAWKI make such trips either too expensive, too politically incorrect, or downright impossible.

A potent combination of consulting work, preparations for our Council Camporee, and an impressive honey-do list are all conspiring to keep this newly-minted retiree off the pavement and stuck to the 10 wheels of my Herman Miller Aeron chair. The road will need to wait a bit, so bear with me.

Meantime, there’s still lots going on and lots to share, so stay tuned. 

 

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