Tuesday, February 27, 2007
This is the actual interior of a motorhome. I will make 10 or 11 people in America (and maybe a few in Canada) angry with this statement, but here's is what I think of this RV: I think it looks like a bad Las Vegas hotel room. Now, I realize this isn't a camper you take to Yellowstone with the kids for a summer vacation. This photo is from an ad in a motorhome magazine. There is no price shown but I can pretty much guarantee that the motorhome goes for at least a half million dollars and probably more.
Who buys a motorhome that looks like this? Don't ask me, because I don't get it. My own tastes run toward a much smaller RV, one that would fit in a space somewhat smaller than a football field -- like maybe what you would find in a national forest. This RV looks like a Greyhound bus on the outside except there is no picture of a dog and it's shinier.
Tell me what you think. Take my little 20-second private survey where you can vote (and see how others voted) if this is the most beautiful sight you have ever seen or if it is uglier than sin.
Posted by Staff Report at 2/27/2007 03:34:00 PM
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Sometimes it's a little hard to get a campfire started. Here's a way to turn pinecones into firestarters. Thanks to the Old Farmers Almanac for this information.
Start with pinecones that are already dried. There are two ways to have fun with pinecones as a fire starter. First, melt any old candle stubs you have. A double-boiler works nicely for this job. Then, dip the pinecones into the hot wax. Let dry, perhaps on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. When dry, store them in your RV and use as needed. The wax helps them burn long enough to help get your fire going. For more special effects, soak the dried pinecones for 24 hours in a solution of 1 pound Epsom salts to 1 gallon water. Let the cones dry again. When you use these as fire starters, they will produce a myriad of colors in the campfire.
Posted by Staff Report at 2/25/2007 11:46:00 AM
Friday, February 23, 2007
You can't travel far in the rural American West without running into a jackalope. Oh, you won't see one in the wild too often, but you'll see plenty in person at roadside trading posts (otherwise known as tourist traps), and on about a dozen popular postcards. At Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, you can even sit right atop a huge 'lope (undoubtedly raised on powerful steroids) and get your picture taken. Jackalopes, in case you don't know, are a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. The only time you will likely run into one is after closing time at a rural tavern when they often howl in pairs. Some folks say they sound like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing a duet. And here's another little-known fact about jackalopes: they only mate during lightning storms. Now, how about that?
Posted by Staff Report at 2/23/2007 04:32:00 PM
My name is Chuck, but it's really Charles. I took the name Chuck when I was a teenager. I thought it was better than Charles, which sounded too formal. For the last few decades I have questioned my decision. I have determined that the name Chuck is the most common name found on bowling alley score cards. I have a cartoon that shows a butcher shop: "Chuck Steak: $1.49 a pound," it says. "Charles Steak, $5.49 a pound."
I especially love the word Chuck as it is used in the popular term "Up Chuck."
But I could have a name that I liked less. Here are a few names I found in a book called "Remarkable Names of Real People."
Remember, these are absolutely real.
Dr. Zoltan Ovary (a noted gynecologist)
A. Moron (Commissioner of Education, Virgin Islands)
Sir Basil Smallpiece
Mrs. Belcher Wack Wack (she married Mr. Wack and then his brother)
Cardinal Sin (Archbishop of Manila)
Reverand Christian Church
Baroness Gaby von Bagge of Boo
Gaston J Feeblebunny
I.C. Shivers (iceman)
Ima and Ura Hogg
Preserved Fish, Jr.
In my own family, one name always gets a chuckle: my great aunt Fanny Butts. I once came across a married couple who worked as real estate agents in Sacramento, California. Their name: The Swindlers. Maybe you have some names to add!
Posted by Staff Report at 2/23/2007 02:40:00 PM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Idaho is a beautiful state with tall mountains, pine forests, and lakes and streams for catching big ol' trout. But it also has a lot of farmland and just about everybody knows about the biggest crop: Yes, you are right -- it's potatoes. In the town of Blackfoot you can learn all about potatoes, see the world's largest potato chip and even eat a yummy potato for free. Billboards on the way into town advertise "Free Taters For Out-Of-Staters." So, being famous for its potatoes, you'd expect that there would be a selection of postcards related to spuds. The one pictured above is one of the most popular.
Posted by Staff Report at 2/15/2007 08:51:00 AM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Here are a few things about Death Valley that may surprise you. First, in case you do not know, Death Valley is a National Park -- the largest National Park in the USA outside Alaska -- and is located in Southern California with a little bit in Nevada. It's the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere at nearly a few hundred feet below sea level. And it's very, very hot. In the summer, the temperature routinely reaches 120 degrees. The record is 134.
Did you know that Death Valley has its own fish? It's true. But do not bring your fishing pole, because the Pupfish is about the size of a small goldfish. What is amazing about this little fish is how it can survive in such a harsh environment. Its ancestors occupied Lake Manley, which covered Death Valley. The water probably got warm, but not hot like the tiny pools where the Pupfish lives today, which can be hotter than your evening bathwater. The fact is, the Pupfish can live in water as hot as 115 degrees! Try taking a bath in water like that and you will probably dip your pinky in and utter, "No way!"
At the Furnace Creek oasis, you will find a beautiful 18-hole golf course. It's the lowest golf course in the world -- at 214 feet below sea level. For many visitors, it's a big surprise to find a golf course in Death Valley, but there is no problem keeping the grass green because of an abundance of gushing spring water.
Another interesting thing about Death Valley is at the visitor center at Furnace Creek. If you should ever attend an evening nature program, pay attention to the shape of the building. It's not square or rectangular like most buildings. No, this building is unique -- shaped exactly like a coffin. Now doesn't that seem appropriate for a place named Death Valley?
Posted by Staff Report at 2/14/2007 06:45:00 PM
Monday, February 05, 2007
We are all builders at heart. Someone built this little monument at the Harmony Borax Works site in Death Valley National Park. It doesn't take much to build such a monument -- a few rocks and few minutes. Such a monument may last a day or a month. But just as we humans are included to build monuments, we are also inclined to destroy them: maybe the park service will determine that this one is not fitting its historic site. But I think there's a better chance someone will just push it over. If you drive I-80 across the vast Bonniville Salt Flats in Utah, you will find many little monuments like this one. Some are more one dimensional: rocks placed on the ground to spell a name or create an image; there were a few peace symbols the last time I drove by. Some people build beautiful sand castles at the beach. These are guaranteed to vanish with the next high tide. In the redwoods, people have carved their names in fallen redwood trees. These are more "memorials" than monuments. A name carved in a fallen redwood tree may still be visible 100 years later, for redwood trees decompose very slowly. I saw a fallen redwood once where early explorers had left their signatures.
Posted by Staff Report at 2/05/2007 09:52:00 AM
This trailer is right outside the Mozart Club in Goldfield, Nevada. It's the only restaurant in Goldfield these days, with a limited menu: pizza or chicken. Bartender and owner Rick McChesney asked me if I wanted pizza. I said sure. He went in back and started making it. After awhile, he delivered it to my table. It was huge with all the fixings. I realized then that when you order a pizza at the Mozart, you get one size fits all. It was a mighty fine pizza.
Goldfield was once a booming gold mining town of 10,000. Now there are maybe 500 people, if that. The old Goldfield Hotel (see pic), was once the most elegant hostelry between Chicago and San Francisco but is now boarded up. There have been a couple of restoration attempts, but all fell short. There's a new owner now, and he says he will get the once majestic hotel up and running again, complete with casino. No one is holding their breath.
There was a huge championship boxing match in Goldfield in 1906 -- the Gans/Nelson bout that was telegraphed around the world. Joe Gans was black and Battling Nelson was white. Seven thousand people watched in what is now a vacant lot. The fight went 42 rounds before being called because of a low blow. To this day, it is the longest world title fight in the history of boxing.
Goldfield is worth a stop for anyone traveling between Las Vegas and Reno on U.S. 95. There's a tiny motel and an RV park. A good place to grab a libation is at the Mozart or down the street at the Santa Fe Saloon, the oldest continually operating bar in Nevada.
Friday, February 02, 2007
At the north end of Beatty, Nevada, along the west side of U.S. 95, Ernie Bunting sells ammunition cans. They come in all sizes and sell from $8 to more than $100. Ernie lives in both a motorhome or a trailer depending upon whether he's in Beatty or in Kingman, Arizona, where he sells ammo cans at flea markets.
A regular stream of traffic passes by his Beatty location, mostly truckers and other motorists traveling between Las Vegas and Reno -- or in the case of RVers, to and from Death Valley. Ernie operates his businesss year round, even in the hot summer. "They've got air conditioning here so it's not so bad," he said.
He sells hundreds of ammo cans. They're great for storing important things because they're super sturdy and water tight. Ernie finds ammo cans to sell on the Internet. He says he doesn't know if the metal type he sells now will be as readily available in the future. "They're talking about making them out of plastic," he said, shaking his head to show disapproval.
He started selling all sorts of stuff in his present open-air location about four years ago, junk mostly. Ernie didn't say as much to me, but I bet he would agree.
Then he hit on selling ammo cans. I bought one today about the size of a bread loaf for $8. But I could have paid $100 for a whopper-sized one that looked to be about 32 square feet in size. People stop all day long. Some like me buy a single can. "One guy bought 10 of these $15 ones this morning," he told me, pointing to a stack of king-sized cans.
Ernie says he's not making a great living, but sales of ammo cans help supplement his social security. In his younger years, he moved houses and churches for a living. He moved a total of 16 churches, lifting them off their foundations and moving them to new places. "Now that was work!" he said.
I asked Ernie if I could take his picture and he said that was fine and he asked me where I wanted him to pose. "People ask me all the time to take my picture," he said. As I snapped a few photos, a fellow drove by in a pickup truck. "Getting more famous Ernie?" he yelled, and Ernie smiled and nodded.
Posted by Staff Report at 2/02/2007 07:34:00 PM
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Here's a postcard that you will find in most souvenir shops in Montana. The state is most famous for its fly fishing, but it's also famous for its fishing in general. The caption on the flip side of this card is "And this is only my bait!" We just wish that the big fish were a trout, which is what anglers who head to Big Sky Country come fishing for. Do you have a wacky postcard that you would like us to publish here? Send it to Chuck Woodbury, RVtravel.com, 170 West Dayton St., Suite 103, Edmonds, WA 98020. We cannot return the postcard, so please keep that in mind.
Posted by Staff Report at 2/01/2007 08:31:00 PM