September 2015

Nifty, Nifty, Lori's Fifty

Chuck Wed, 2015-09-30 07:00
Birthdays seem to keep coming faster and faster, but this one is a notable one. Today, Lori turns 50, so I wanted to take a moment to tell my wife, my travel pal, my dance partner, my fellow wine drinker, happy birthday. I love you, babe. Where to next?

Crater Lake National Park, Or What To Do When Wally World Is Closed

Crater Lake, Filled With Smoke
Chuck Tue, 2015-09-29 07:00
Stop number 2 of our August drive up the West Coast was at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Crater Lake was formed nearly 8,000 years ago when the volcano Mount Mazama literally blew its top off, leaving a perfectly formed caldera. The eruption of Mazama, to put it in perspective, was about 150 times more powerful than the eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980. For the ensuing 7 or 8 centuries, Mazama’s caldera filled with rainwater and snowmelt. The result was a perfectly isolated lake of some of the purest water on the planet, so pure that its blue color is renowned. It’s easy to wax...

A Day In Wine Country: Sonoma vs. Napa

Zinfandel Grapes
Chuck Sat, 2015-09-26 07:00
As our plans to drive from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest started to firm up, Chuck took to Google Maps and planned a route. That process starts with entering the staring point (La Quinta, California) and the ending point (Seattle, Washington), determining the drive time (about 20 hours), then chopping the route up according to reasonable drive times (somewhere between 8 and 12 hours in a day) and interesting places to stop. Eight hours north of La Quinta, straight up I-5, is the bay area. Now to most, the San Francisco area might evoke images of the Golden Gate Bridge,...

Road Trip Essentials

The Long and Winding Road
Chuck Thu, 2015-09-24 07:00
In January we took a “quick” thousand-mile road trip down to vacationland in Central Florida. We followed that up with a couple-thousand-mile road trip to New England. And since June we’ve been on a mega-road trip, having logged 6,500 miles so far, and we’ve yet to turn back home to Atlanta. We think it’s safe to say we’re road trip experts. That means we have a few “road trip essentials” that we can recommend as great gear to load into your car before you head out on your own road trip. We’ll skip the basics, like a first aid kit (though it’s worth mentioning that, as we were going to be...

Dancing Up And Down the West Coast

Couple Lindy Dancing
Chuck Tue, 2015-09-22 07:00
I can think of few activities that have more health benefits than dancing. Just Google “health benefits of dancing” and start reading. If the physical benefits of dancing still don’t appeal to you, then how about this: dancing makes you smarter . Click here to read for yourself. I can also think of few activities that span the generations better than dancing. Ok, I admit that most of our dance experiences have put us among the youngest on the dance floor (and we're soon to be 50), but just recently we dropped in at the Century Ballroom in Seattle to find a couple of hundred swing and lindy...

The Palm Springs Air Museum

SBD "Dauntless" Scout Dive Bomber
Chuck Sat, 2015-09-19 07:00
Regular readers should know by now that if there’s an aviation museum near where we find ourselves, Chuck is going to drag Lori to see it. There was the tiny but fun Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, for example, the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum several times prior to that, and there will be more in upcoming blogs (hint). While in the Palm Springs area, then, we spent an afternoon at the Palm Springs Air Museum . While it hardly compares to the Smithsonian, it dwarfs the Solent Sky Museum. But one of the nifty unique things about the Palm Springs Air Museum is that most of...

The Salton Sea and Bombay Beach

The Salton Sea with the Santa Rosa Mountains in the background
Chuck Thu, 2015-09-17 07:00
On the south end of the Coachella Valley, there’s a sea in the middle of the desert. It’s not a natural body of water. Well, sort of. In 1905, the Colorado River, which flows down from the Colorado Plateau and passes about 40 miles east on its way south to Mexico and ultimately the Gulf of California, began flooding. This was the days before Hoover Dam when the river ran wild and the 19 th century canal barriers along the river were no match for the rising waters. Soon, those waters began spilling into the Coachella Valley and, as water does so reliably, flowed to its lowest spot (which...

The California Citrus State Historic Park

Oranges in an orange tree
Chuck Tue, 2015-09-15 07:00
The Saturday we went to the drive-in, we had half the afternoon to kill in Riverside. One of the top TripAdvisor attractions for Riverside, California is the California Citrus State Historic Park. Hey, everyone likes oranges, so what the heck? Where most national, state, and local public parks are set aside as preserves because of their scenic natural beauty or unique natural ecosystems, this park celebrates an industry that completely changed its landscape. The park’s preservation mission is, instead, focused on maintaining a monument to a decades-ago snapshot of California’s citrus...

In Search of the Ideal Luggage

Two Canvas Suitcases
Chuck Sat, 2015-09-12 07:00
There are four factors to consider when selecting luggage: capacity, weight, durability, and price. The ideal luggage has infinite capacity, weighs nothing, is indestructible, and (of course) is free. Not surprisingly, we’re still in search of the ideal luggage. It would be nice if we could find luggage that excels in even one of those areas. We started last year’s 6-month trek through Europe with the bags shown at the top of this blog. They had good capacity, which is to say they were just a bit too large, and they were fairly durable (though Lori’s front pocket zipper didn’t survive our...

A Night At The Drive-In

The Van Buren Drive-in, Riverside, California
Chuck Wed, 2015-09-09 07:00
Americans love to innovate and solve problems that nobody realized existed before. Not long after we began hitting the roads in droves in our shiny new Chevys and Fords and Pontiacs and Buicks, one Richard Hollingshead solved the problem of unbearably uncomfortable movie theatre seats by inventing the “park-in theatre”. Hollingshead actually owned the patent on drive-up movie entertainment from 1933 until 1949. During those years automobile-bound movie-viewers were required to enjoy Hollywood fare from the comfort of their cars in Hollingshead’s Park-In Theater in Camden, New Jersey. When his...

Atop Mount San Jacinto, California

View of The Coachella Valley from Mt San Jacinto
Chuck Sat, 2015-09-05 07:00
Stunning vistas, breathtaking scenery, blah blah, yada yada… It seems inevitable that we will tire of laying our eyes on incredible natural beauty, or that we will at least run out of adjectives and superlatives and descriptive metaphors for all that the American west has to offer. It may indeed be that it’s getting harder, as this road trip progresses, to describe the beauty we’ve seen. But we’re certainly not tiring of seeing it. Somewhat ironically, but not at all surprisingly, the best way to see a valley is to get up and out of it. We noted this in our blog on Joshua Tree National Park...

The Romance and Sex Life of the Date

Chuck Wed, 2015-09-02 07:00
In the heart of California’s Coachella Valley, in the town of Indio, you’ll find a desert oasis of kitschy travel fun. Shields Date Garden is a working date farm, processor, retail outlet, and tourist attraction all in one. This place has been pleasing visitors since Floyd and Bess Shields came to the desert in 1924 to build a business growing these desert palm fruits. How we came to want to go to Shields Date Garden is worthy of a brief digression. “La Quinta, California. It’s in the Coachella Valley,” I explained to my buddy Michael as we related our summer road trip travel plans. “...