Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Secret 'O Life

I have enjoyed this song by James Taylor for many years. For a lot of those years it was just a pleasant tune to me. A few years ago I really listened to the lyrics and was amazed at the simple but profound statement it makes.

I have tried to use this sentiment in my everyday life and I offer it to you to ponder and use without any explanation other than the lyrics themselves..."Any fool can do it"

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There aint nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since were on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride

The secret of love is in opening up your heart
Its okay to feel afraid
But dont let that stand in your way cause
anyone knows that love is the only road
And since were only here for a while
Might as well show some style
Give us a smile

Isnt it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
Its just a lovely ride

Now the thing about time is that time
Isnt really real
Its just your point of view
How does it feel for you
Einstein said he could never understand it all
Planets spinning through space
The smile upon your face

Welcome to the human race
Some kind of lovely ride
Ill be sliding down
Ill be gliding down
Try not to try too hard
Its just a lovely ride

Isnt it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
Its just a lovely ride

Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

Be Careful What You Wish For!

See the post from this past Saturday....the first part of my request was answered it's now snowing during the week too....damnit!

Didja Ever Wonder??

I am constantly amazed at driving "etiquette" or lack thereof that is commonly seen these days?? I live in the "burbs"on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. I've got to admit where I live is a pretty nice place. Judging from the number of high dollar SUVs I encounter every day I could be said to be living in "high cotton"...lots of young (Hell, just about everyone is getting to be younger than me anymore!) up and coming yuppies, dinks and sfb (@$#% for brains) pre-ceos.

So picture this. Three lane road. Right lane is the turn only lane and there are 10 cars in the lane that have been patiently waiting for the light to turn. The light turns and the line begins an orderly advance when a big new shiny SUV with the Thule roof rack, satellite radio antenna, bumper sticker that says I "heart" My Pyreneese!, zooms up the center lane....with turn signal on...and cuts in front of the second car in line. To add insult to injury, the car turns right again in 500 feet into the grocery store parking lot.

Didja ever wonder,,, if I followed the driver into the grocery store and waited until they got in a checkout line, then walked up to them with my arm extended in "turn signal" mode and stepped in front of them in the line,,, would they say "Sure go right ahead"????

Didja ever wonder??

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cabin Fever!

So, it's Saturday and it's a broken record and I'm getting sick of the music! The picture above was my deck 2 weeks ago. That's a yard stick in the snow on the table you're seeing there.

Living in the Rocky Mountain West I realize that snow is good for us. It's not only good but it's essential for the well being of all, not only right now for the skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and snowshoers, but for every single one of us this summer. But please, give me a break...just a little one....or...or...snow during the week for a while and let the weekend be nice!

Ahhh, the oldtimers are probably snickering thinking "if he only knew how it used to be". Well go ahead and snicker! I am an old timer and I do remember how it was! But I was young then and tough and a manly man! Now I'm a late middle aged guy who has gotten soft and likes nice sue me! Turn it off for a while....I'm looking at this------------------------>>>>>

And thinking this........

And this....

I guess what started me on this vent was the fact that yesterday I started making plans for my annual (sometimes semi-annual) trip to Moab, UT with a bunch of friends to "rock crawl" in four wheel drive vehicles. I've been doing this for a couple of years but I'm a newbie in the group. Many of the participants have been doing this for....10 years now. This year is the 10th anniversary for the trip founders. So I am thinking nice weather, sunshine, warm. Which would you rather have...the picture at the top of the page;

or this...

Or this.............................................................I rest my case!....Thanks for listening to the vent.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Muffler Man & Other Chicagoland Kitsch

This week business took me to Chicagoland and during my trip I was able to investigate some local "weirdness". If you have been following this blog you'll know that recently I have been on the trail of unusual roadside Americana that I refer to as either "weirdness" or kitsch.

One of the most famous roadside Americana/weirdness/kitsch is a creature called Muffler Man. Muffler Men are giant twenty foot tall fiberglass humanoids that were produced in the 1960's and early 1970's for use as outdoor advertising props. They were used to promote muffler shops, gas stations, restaurants and tire shops and various other businesses. To the left you see the basic Muffler Man...with a beard. If you look closely you will notice that the left hand points down. You can't see in this picture but the right hand points up. This is the classic means of identifying an original Muffler Man.

Variations on this basic model include a Paul Bunyon, a space man, a "half wit" with an Alfred E. Neuman head and other characters.

There are people that spend enormous amounts of time searching for and documenting Muffler Men. I learned about these things on several months ago and have been anxious to see one ever since.

Chicagoland has one of the largest concentrations of Muffler Men in the country so I made sure that I had time during my business to seek out at least one of these pieces of Americana. I was in luck and got to see not only one but two genuine Muffler Men and a giant fiberglass Indian that was produced by the same company that made Muffler Man.

The image to the right shows not only a Muffler Man with an axe but a giant cow too! Hmmm, wonder what this Muffler Man has on his mind? The cow seems to be wondering too.

This Muffler Man is at an amusement park north of Chicago. If you look closely at the picture you can see snow on the ground so you can imagine this was not the best time to try and get photos. When I got to the amusement park it was closed...DUH...but I was able to locate a maintenance employee and asked if I could go in and take a picture. Surprisingly, she said yes and added that "lots" of people stop by just to see him. She also said that representatives from Master Card and Nike had been there recently to take promotional pictures with "Muffler Man" maybe I'm not as strange as you thought!

Anyway, I consider this trip a success and know that there are at least4-5 more of these things in Chicagoland that will be on my "to do" list for future trips.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

National Western Stock Show

More snow!!!! Sunday morning and the forecast is for 2-6" of fresh snow. That's 5 weekends in a row with snow.

We were lucky however, the original call was for snow to start on Saturday, and Saturday was the day for the "circle" to go to the National Western Stock Show. The weather was cold but no snow and we all had a great time.

The circle was complete on this day with The Bride and I, "Too Tall" Jeff and Karen and "Guitar" and Pic-E.

This is the last weekend for the Stock Show so the crowds were large. On one hand big crowds make things more difficult...on the other there are lots more interesting people to watch. Much of the crowd was dressed in their western finest and it was fun just to see all the styles of cowboy hats.

"Too Tall" and I already have hats but we haven't been able to talk "Guitar" into pulling the trigger on a custom hat yet. We will continue to keep up the pressure though.

We started the morning by looking at all the animals in the stockyard pens. Great photo opportunities limited only by the imagination, as you can see from the photo on the right!

After looking at the animals we watched some of the cattle dog competition. These dogs, guided by their master's whistles herded three cows thru a maze and into a trailer. Amazing what these dogs do.

After the dogs there was the draft horse competition, wagons, sled pulls and a mule costume competition....Yes a competition for costumed mules/donkeys/burros! Actually it was for the owners to dress up and use their animals as a prop. The "mountain man" and his family won first prize.

The rodeo was the highlight of the day. This event had all the basic rodeo events, bareback bronc, bucking bronc, steer wrestling, tie down roping and the most popular, bull riding. The picture to the left isn't the requisite bull rider shot but the aftermath of the "baddest" ride of the night. This cowboy really got his "bell rung" and in the picture here he's being "assisted" to the medical facility. Honestly he looked unconscious to me with blood streaming down his head. We hope he is all right.

So, a great time was had by one and all and it was a wonderful "friends" fix for the weekend. For all those reading this we wish you "Happy Trails".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

North Carolina Kitsch

My recent trip to Winston-Salem, NC allowed me to continue my search for "wierdness". The "Old North State" is pretty conservative so their kitsch is relatively low key. The Piedmont region of NC is known not only for its barbecue, but also for it's furniture industry. It's fitting then that NC kitsch comes in the form of giant furniture. Here are some pictures of giant bureaus in the High Point area and a giant chair in Thomasville.

Note the socks hanging out of the drawer in the image to the right.

Next week my travels take me to Chicagoland and my research indicates that I'll have the opportunity to see a "Muffler Man"! This is really exciting stuff so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Barbecue Chapter 2!

Last week I gave you some background in my love of Carolina style barbecue. This week I am able to continue the pursuit of this passion. Work takes me to Winston-Salem, NC which is in the very center of Carolina barbecue country! I arrived about 7pm on Monday evening and leave first thing on Thursday morning. The trick is to partake as much as I can and still attend to the required business.

My master plan included dinner Monday night at Stamey's of Greensboro, since I flew into the Greensboro airport. After picking up my rental car, I set the GPS for Stamey's and started driving. Unfortunately, in the last year, there has been a lot of road construction around the Greensboro airport and some of the roads were not recognizeable to the "lady in the box". She was definitely confused! I knew that if I spent too much time trying to "unconfuse" the lady, I wouldn't get any barbecue that night at all. I therefore abandoned my primary objective and went to my fall back objective.

My fall back objective was Mr. Barbecue in Winston-Salem. This is a tried a true barbecue restaurant that I have patronized many times over the last 30 years. It didn't disappoint on this ocassion either. I ordered a chopped plate that consisted of a generous portion of barbecue, red slaw, hush puppies and fries. All washed down with sweet tea. Not only was it soul satisfying but it was on special too! $4.75 for a barbecue dinner that would make the hardest critic weep! Day #1 was a success.

Tuesday was planned to be the highlight of the trip with lunch scheduled at Lexington #1. How can I describe the reputation of this restaurant among Carolina barbecue afficianados? Mecca, Stradivarius, Gibson, Rolls Royce, Champagne all come to mind.
I had arranged to meet a business associate there at 12:30 for lunch. At a little after 11 am I got a call from him on my cell phone. He said he was running early and did I want to meet him at 11:30 instead and "beat the crowd". Since I was only a few minutes away from the restaurant I immediately agreed. When I arrived I discovered that you don't "beat the crowd" at 11:30 as the parking lot was already almost full.
Lunch was another chopped barbecue plate with plenty of 'cue, slaw, fries and hush puppies and again washed down with sweet tea. The picture at the top of the story is my lunch plate. Note the slaw on the upper part of the plate. I described this as red slaw in my description of the Mr. Barbecue dinner. This slaw is made with cabbage and vinegar instead of mayonaise...hence the reddish color. I will tell you that it is an acquired taste as it is quite "tart" but once you have "acquired" the taste there's nothing that pairs with the sweetness of the barbecue better.
I have one full day left and now the question is, will I be able to squeeze in one more meal of barbecue? If I am unable to because of business commitments I'll at least be consoled with the accomplishment of having barbecue twice in the last two days.
Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

RV Show

MINUS 6 degrees this morning! About 3" of new snow... Let's think summer thoughts. Let's go the the RV show!!!

This really wasn't a spur of the moment thing. We had been planning to go to this event for several months but it just seemed like a GREAT idea this morning. We were at the door at opening time, 10:30 am. Where to start, where to start? The show was huge with every type of RV imaginable. Trailers, fifth wheels, Class A, B, C, motor homes, pop ups, truck campers all just waiting for us.

Karen and "Too Tall" Jeff were out of town so the "circle" this day consisted of me, The Bride, Guitar and Pic-E. Guitar and Pic-E do not have an RV but are very interested in getting one so this was a great opportunity to see all of the possibilities.

We saw about four hours of possibilities and only saw about half of what was available! I was most interested in fifth wheel trailers and truck campers. Things have certainly changed since I camped with my parents and two brothers...and Doberman Pincer in the 1960's in a 15' Shasta trailer!

One of the most interesting things was a display by Timeless Travel Trailers, a company that restores and refits old trailers with the most modern conveniences. On display were two old Airstream trailers. One of them was a 60's model that had been rebuilt inside to look like an Adirondack cabin. There was also a 1958 Stanley trailer. The host said that this was the only Stanley trailer left in existence and after this show the trailer was going to a museum.

After four hours we walked out with a bag full of brochures, lots of grand plans but no new RV.

Oh well we have several more months until it's camping weather!
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Kitschy America

The United States is a vast area and within this vastness there's some really weird stuff. One of my new hobbies is to seek out this "weirdness" where ever it may be! An important resource in the quest is a web site called "Roadside America" . Check it out if you have an interest in this type of thing. It's really interesting.

As you can see from the post directly below, I was in Columbia, SC this week. Columbia is the home of the worlds biggest fire hydrant. I'm not making this up folks! Look at the picture above and if you want more information look it up on Roadside America. True Americana! Note that the fire hydrant is leaning, like it's been hit by an even bigger car. Also note that a fountain gives the impression that the hydrant is leaking. This is a hobby that I'm really enjoying so far. Hopefully, I'll have a lot more "weirdness" to show you in the future.


This week I travelled on business to Columbia, SC. Now, I have to tell you that I spent a good deal of my life in the Carolina's. My children were born in North Carolina. My wife is from North Carolina and I went to college in South Carolina. I also spent a lot of my business career in both of the Carolinas.

As a result, I LOVE BARBECUE!! Carolina style that is. No cow and ketchup for me, no sir. If it's barbecue it better be pork and pulled or chopped at that!

Going to Columbia gave me the opportunity to "partake" of my favorite food. Columbia is home to a very famous barbecue restaurant, Maurice's Piggy Park. It is unique in the Carolina's in that it uses a mustard based sauce. Most all of the rest of the Carolina's use a vinegar based sauce and this is what I enjoy the most. Living in the west however, I can't be too particular and have to take my pleasures as I find them so dinner a Maurice's (pronounced Mo-reece's) was a must.

Tuesday night was the night and I took a business associate from Oklahoma with me. I ordered a "Big Pig" plate for both of us and we both did "pig out" on pulled pork, ribs, hash, cole slaw, sweet tea...and for desert, a BIG bowl of home made bananna pudding! I ate so much I was absolutely that wonderful way! Heaven.....

In the past 10 years I've travelled back to the Carolina's about 3 times. In the last 2 months, I've been back twice and the best news is that next week I'll be travelling to Winston-Salem, NC. Visit this blog next week for a continuation of my barbecue story

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Snow Shoeing

We've had an awful lot of snow in the last three weeks...over 50". Everyone in the "circle" had cabin fever and we were all desperate to do something together. Snow shoeing somehow seemed appropriate. It was a gorgeous day! Bright sunshine, Colorado cobalt blue sky, temps in the 20's. On the way to the place we were going to snow shoe we saw a fox, casually trotting in the snow, and a bald eagle soaring above. We spent a couple of hours at an area close to town and then had lunch at an oriental restaurant also close by. Everyone had worked up a serious appetite and lunch really hit the spot. This will be our "friends" fix for the week. Next Saturday we will all go to the RV show downtown...
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Friday, January 5, 2007

Mongolian Exchange Students & Indian Rock Art

In late fall of this year I wanted to get away for a weekend in my trailer. Because of other commitments, the bride, couldn't come with me so I asked my friend "Guitar" if he wanted to go. Guitar is always up for a trip so we planned to head to eastern Colorado for the weekend.

Everyone hears about the mountains of Colorado, the mining history, the scenery, the skiing and all but few people know about the neat things on the eastern plains of Colorado. The eastern plains of Colorado have a rich history all their own. Indians, fur traders, buffalo, frontier scouts all made their homes and passed thru the high plains of Colorado.

John and I decided to head to Las Animas, about 150 miles southeast of Denver. This is very close to Bent's Fort an old trading fort on the Santa Fe trail. In Las Animas is also Boggsville, which is the last home of Kit Carson. Carson lived here for a number of years and his decendents still live and work in the area.

On Saturday morning we stopped at a Loaf n Jug store for a cup of coffee and started to talk to a local fellow that was also getting coffee. When we told him we were investigating the historical sights he said..."I meeting a group of Mongolian exchange students here in a few minutes. I'm taking them to my brother's ranch to show them some indian petroglyphs that are in a canyon there. Do you want to come?" Mongolian exchange students, petroglyphs...we couldn't pass that up!

Long story short, we spent an exciting day seeing the indian rock art, learning about the Mongolian exchange students and talking with real cowboys. I told John that if we told people what we really did that day they would have accused us of gross fabrication to cover up a weekend of drinking!

The picture immediately below is of our host and a couple of the exchange students....Oh, there was also one Russian student too! The picture at the top of the page shows one of the petroglyphs of Kokopelli.

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