Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scenes From a Road Trip

Rain affected our road trip plans as we drove back from SoCal. We bailed on Joshua Tree and headed up the El Cajon pass looking for better weather. What we found was a large billboard advertising a room and breakfast for $25 in Mesquite. A quick call to the Virgin River Casino and we had reservations.

Somewhere near Baker, the drugs kicked in... no, no... the weather broke a bit, so we decided on a pit stop for some other-world refreshments.



Saying goodbye to our new friends, we split for Vegas, and soon after entered more rain driving into Mesquite.

The rain would end by morning, but left a lot of fog in the Virgin River valleys and snow in upper elevations. We decided to take the back way into St. George, leaving the Interstate at Littlefield and proceeding past Beaver Dam and through the Paiute Reservation. This involved climbing up to a major pass where the road was a sheet of ice. Creeping around a curve at the summit, we were greeted by an amazing scene... the mountains behind the St. George area.



Descending into the St. George area, we were buried in the fog, but managed to find the road to Snow Canyon. Unfortunately, the fog was hiding this State Park, but the fog made for some interesting pics.



Finally the fog lifed, and we saw Snow Canyon in all its red rock glory.





Besides red rock, a lot of volcanic action has taken place in this area.




So while the road trip did not work out as planned, it was quite rewarding anyway. Next month, or possibly March, another road trip, hoping to find the place I want to die. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NAMM Adventures

With help from my "in", Rod Daynes, we were able to attend the NAMM show in Anaheim again this year. What a zoo! Lots of gear... guitars, amps, recording hardware, audio software... ah, the software!







Wait a minute! Well, maybe next year I will just spend my time with my camera in one place and just take photos of people. Somehow, I guess it's the music industry and in Los Angeles, but the show really does attract the most interesting people.

I did see some fun gear as well.





There's always fun entertainment to be found at NAMM, some on formal stages, some just happens in various booths. First thing in the morning, for folks waiting for the exhibit doors to open, we were treated to Polka Floyd. Yep, just what the name implies. Really a fun start to our day.


Then a little Tex-Mex at the Roland electronic squeeze box booth.


Even Elton John showed up (I guess...)


But the best entertainment was that night, away from NAMM, where we heard Chain Reaction, featuring the work of the world's greatest guitar player... the kid really does have his chops down!



Til next year... (actually, stay tuned for pics from our road trip back to SLC).

Monday, January 16, 2012

One Last Bismarck Adventure

One of our interviews was with the ND Parks and Recs folks. They were kind enough to arrange a "private" tour of the close by Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. While the park is open in the winter, the weather keeps the tourists at bay (and our tour rather brief!).

The Fort is home to a museum built by the CCC (perhaps a good idea to try again now with our continuing recession).




The park also features a restoration of the On-A-Slant Indian village, the original occupants of this area in the 1600-1800s. The village features several earthen mound homes.





Canadian geese are prolific in this area (next to the Missouri river).


But Fort Abraham Lincoln is most famous as the homebase of General Custer and his army. His house has been restored, along with some of the barracks buildings. From this base, Custer led his men to their fate at Little Big Horn. Some curious facts... Custer graduated totally last in his class at West Point, yet had an exceedingly successful military career... until he didn't.




One way to bathe...



Supposedly, Custer's wife's ghost still haunts the house and grounds. Probably as revenge for having to wear these very narrow shoes.


Apparently, many women of the time chopped off their little toes in order to fit into these fashionable shoes of the day. And we are incredulous about Chinese foot binding.

One barracks and a zillion more geese.


Finally, a shot of the wide Missouri... finally back in its banks after the worst flooding known to North Dakota.

More Bismarck


Unseasonably warm for 3 days in Bismarck, then the temps dropped 40 degrees! We did cruise around a little, it's a small town in most ways. Lots of bars and many quite decent restaurants. And these sites:


North Dakota has one of the few (maybe only Alaska) undomed state capitol buildings. From 1934, the current building reflects somewhat the art deco/industrial architecture of the period.

The railroads figure prominently in Bismarck commerce. From a little park along the rail lines, we found this steam engine... and a rather interestingly named church.





Downtown, there's this warning light/siren that indicates approaching weather. Storms can be severe, tornadoes are possible, and the Missouri can flood badly in the Spring as the populace learned in 2010. Local school kids learn a poem about the different indicators.



The Peacock Alley was historic but expensive ($10 beers!), but good steaks. Space Aliens had decent BBQ (very tender brisket and a fun family atmosphere... check their web site), and I got Walleye fish and chips at the Toasted Frog. But the best deal around was at the local Elks Club... $8 for a full prime rib dinner!