Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Busy Week

Several weeks ago one of my hot rod buddies sent me an e-mail which included an old Dragnet program starring Joe Friday. The opening of the show has Joe describing all the various things that you can do in Southern California because of the different weather and mix of mountains and beaches which leads to a bunch of kids thrill seeking and drag racing on the public streets (thank the deities we never did that). To keep busy last week a trip was necessary that required a trip above Bishop which is outside of Friday's jurisdiction to June Lake. The week started earlier with riding my dirt bike at El Mirage in the desert, thenthe next day sailing the boat followed by two days of surfing. Then back to the boat in San Pedro to cover the hatches with a tarp for the predicted rain and a trip to Los Angeles to drop the dog at my daughter's in Echo Park for her to enjoy dog sitting. This is want cheap gas allows you to do.

The drive north required 356 miles behind the wheel with some local rain, windy desert, and after the Mammoth turn off heavy snowfall and four wheel drive use. June Lake and its June Mountain is not a giant over developed mess that Mammoth Mountain is(although the June ski area is Mammoth ran) and is laid back, mellow, empty runs with great snow. No lines or rude people and at a much greater reduce price (except the cafeteria).

The one draw back is getting from the parking lot to June Meadows Chalet where the chairs and runs are located. A double chair ride is required from the ticket sales area up the steep face that is a scary ride coming back down. There is Canyon Trail that will allow a return run all the way down to the parking area but it needed more snow to make it without some board or ski bottom scraping. My skiing started after watching the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics on black and white television. One early Saturday morning we jumped in our 57 Volkswagen and headed for the snow at Big Bear where we rented skis, rode the rope tows and fried our skins in the bright sun and reflected snow. The next morning we were so sun burnt and sore we couldn't make it back up the mountain.
Well like all trips that bubble with fun my next snow trip is in the planning stage. The only hitch is by old long board is starting to sag and my newest board just doesn't float my ass at my current weight and I need to roundup up a pair of skis and boots as waiting in a rental line can be a drag if the dozen kids in front of you in the line don't know their boot sizes and after the motel bill and eating out I have one twenty dollar bill left in my flat wallet.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Trees and illegals

During my third grade in school our teacher Mrs. Phillips asked us to purchase a copy of One Hundred and One Famous Poems and we had to learn the poem Trees and recite it. There are reasons for trimming trees and pruning rose bushes but to profit the bottom line is not one of them. Trees provide fruit, shade, a habitat for birds and wayward kites and numerous other benefits. Somewhere along the way unnecessary trimming became a way for homeowner associations management to justify their existence and expenditures. In times with an abundance of illegals and cheap labor unnecessary tree trimming become another way
for associations to make a buck. During an e-mail discussion with a representative of the City of Lake Forest she told me that there was 87
home owners association within the city. That number sounds rather high for me but there is no shortage of tree destruction here.


by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

My apology to Kilmer but my doubts are that Gods and deities are not responsible for flora and fauna but local cities and home owners associations are responsible exploiting illegal labor in destroying not only a trees fuction but their beauty.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spangler Hills

A return to the desert racing. Last year after starting a garage cleaning to remove unused motorcycles a snag came along. The one remaining dirt bike couldn 't bring a valid buyer on Craig's List so it just sat there collecting dust then my daughter asked me to go riding at El Mirage with a group of their friends and I rode our 125CC that I had never really ridden before and it was a blast to ride. Then the long process to get it registered with the state and after finally getting it accomplished the motor developed a serious disorder so I found a replacement ride. The new bike was a much larger 450 and going from a 2 stroke motor to a four stroke requires some learning and at my age that learning doesn't come easy. Well one thing let to another and I rode my first desert race Sunday. Actually it wasn't my first race, it was my first recent one. I started riding desert races before they started having Super Bowls as I remember a race once that was started early so people could get home in time to watch the new event on TV.

The Hare and Hound Sunday was put on by the Jackrabbits MC in an OHV area called Spangler Hills which is north of Red Mountain and south of Trona. Those are two places where there isn't any traffic or much of anything else. The race had two loops and I rode only one of 41 miles. My biggest worry was would I make the loop without running out of gas. Desert riders some time replace their stock gas tank with a larger one for longer races. Being of an engineering lean I did some testing with my GPS and a calibrated beaker to measure fuel consumption while riding in the open desert at speed. The flyer for the race said the first loop was 35 miles long and I figure my smaller motocross tank would make it without a problem. My desert racer buddy said he had never used a larger tank and I would not have a problem. Then when I got to the race sign up Saturday and found out they had changed the loop distance to 41 miles my buddy said maybe I should take a gas can to the refueling pit stop which I didn't.

So all Saturday night I kept tossing and turning wondering rather I could make a 41 mile loop on my smaller tank. One side of the brain said "no problem, you have done the calculations" and the other side said pushing a 200 pound plus motorcycle across the sand is not advisable. Well enough said, I made it around without running out even after crashing in a sand wash with a landing that wound up with a upside down motorcycle and the clutch lever stuck in my boot while the motor kept on running. My pre-race planning failed to include spillage so maybe I will get another tank or learn to stay right side up. I am not sure if I fell twice or three times during the early part of the course as one crash may have been deleted with the jarring or it is too scary to remember. The problem is not the actual crashing, it is getting hit from behind by another rider who is unable to avoid you in time or just can't see you because of the dust. In spite of what my mutant teenager says about me being slow, believe it or not their are some slower.

The drive out there was 160 miles long pulling a trailer and of course the same distance back and I hate the freeways. Not all of driving is freeway and some is just two lane desert blacktop but I am planning the next one so it must have been fun.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Amber Spyglass

Earlier in the year I started reading Patrick O'Brians book Master and Commander the first of the Aubrey/Maturin Novels. Then after a few other reading I purchased ten of the series on E-Bay and started the series again. A long the line I picked up several reference books that explain many of the archaic verbiage used, plus maps and illustrations. The series is 21 books long and from time to time something described just didn't seem to agree with my experience sailing. Now my experience as a sailor is that of a novice but how could it be correct to disagree with Sir Francis Chichester statement "The best sea-story I have ever read." So to confirm my understanding of the series I was constantly looking up words and places. Then I discovered an anachronism and found another blogger who also commented on the usage but was afraid to challenge it because of O'Brian position. Then I discovered a article in Sailing Magazine where Tom Perkins stated that after taking Patrick O'Brian on his ship he doubted O'Brian sailing experience. Then I read two biographies about O'Brian that explained his lack of sailing experience and that he was some what of a fraud to say the least. He wasn't even Irish. In the serendipity of Googling I discovered Philip Pullman and bought his trilogy on E-bay for next to nothing. No matter how hard I tried to switch from reading about the British Navy to Gyptian who sailed the sea I could not get started with it. Then while cruising the aisle of Target I spotted the DVD of Golden Compass and took it home and watched it. After viewing the film, which is as close to the book Hollywood gets as movies go I attempted to read HIS DARK MATERIALS again: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. No need to check this author as it is a fantasy with time travel, string theory, ghosts, witches, snow bears, animals that cruise using a wheel made from a seed pod. During their adventures many worlds are travels by Lyra, Pantalaimon and Will and using my camera in hand Saturday I tried to captured the desert of the Snow Bears and the view seen through a amber spyglass. If I catch any witches in my view finder or hail an Gyptian at sea I will be sure add that to my blog also.