Sunday, October 28, 2007

Back in Utah

I am back in Utah this weekend. It’s good to be in the intermountain West and great to see my Utah friends.

Yesterday at my Salt Lake show two friends came by just to say hello. One is someone I’ve known for 17 years now—I first met her in Tivoli, NY through my sister Cari. She’s extremely successful in the film business and extremely cool too. The other is a friend from when I worked on the Olympics, almost six years ago. She is a sweet, wonderful woman who kept me company yesterday afternoon.

I am staying with a friend who has a gorgeous house on the bench of the mountains above downtown. The Airstream stayed in Idaho to save fuel and simplify this weekend’s trip.

Saw Pippa and Kirk last night, two of my favorite people on the planet. They’re thriving, though Kirk almost killed himself recently rolling his vintage Land Cruiser. Luckily he was mostly unharmed. The Land Cruiser, which he had towed to their house, was mortally wounded. He plans to salvage the engine and many parts from it. The three of us had drinks at the Alta Club last night. The club is an old school men's club, that is now open to all sexes. It's very nice with beautiful mission style stained glass at the entrance. Pippa just finished her work on the week long Utah Book Festival and there was a small event at the Alta Club with one of the authors. The three of us hung out, checked out the public areas at the club, and had a drink. I regaled them with stories from my life on the road and got caught up with their year as well.

I’d love to end up back in Utah at some point, though loving life in the Airstream too much still. I’ve just got so many good friends here and Utah is my favorite state. You’d never know that now would you? (See name of web site and business.)

Jake spent the last two days at the best doggie day care place in the world: Dog Mode. I was one of their first customers back in 1999. They’ve since upgraded to a new facility that they designed just for their business. Jon Campbell who owns Dog Mode is a wonderful guy and he’s done a great job creating an ideal environment for pups. He’s won many Best in State awards which are well deserved. His staff is outstanding. At least one guy, LJ, dates back to the days when I took Jackson there. If you haven’t heard of Jackson, my previous pup, there’s a lot more on him posted earlier on this web site (see late 2004).

When I was picking up Jake Friday a guy came in and asked for Jackson. My heart just about stopped and dropped too. Out came his Jackson, a yellow lab. It was a strange moment.

Utah was my home from 1994 to 2002 and I will always love it here. It’s such a pretty state and so diverse, at least in what it has to offer in the outdoors. Of course in other ways it’s not so diverse, though Salt Lake and Park City are much more liberal and heterogeneous than most of the rest of the state. The Mormons were always nice to me. It’s funny to me how many people have a Mormon-phobia and therefore a Utah aversion. They’re just people like everyone else—with their green jello and all (a Utah joke).

Need to get going for the last day of the Wasatch Gem Show.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

En route, Lewiston to Boise--1 of 3

This is one of three images taken from the same spot along the road. What you don't see in any of them is the mountain stream just to the right of this image and 25 feet below. From the time I entered Montana last week the views have been breathtaking.

Lewiston to Boise--2 of 3

Looking back from the same spot . . . the Idaho Rockies.

Lewiston to Boise--3 of 3

Still the same spot . . . hard to believe. My truck and Airstream after traversing the continent through the rain. It was only about 90 more minutes after this stop to my sister Elise's near Boise. Jake demanded a stop though and I assented.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hells Canyon

Last weekend was Hells Canyon Gem Club's show in Lewiston, Idaho. The club did a phenomenal job and had a good turnout in the heart of Lewis and Clark country. Clarkston, Washington is Lewiston's sister city just across the Snake River.

Lewiston is Idaho's only seaport. Ocean going vessels can reach it via the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The drive from Lewiston to Boise was five solid hours of mountain roads including a hellacious drop in to Hells Canyon. The road plummeted 3,500 feet down to the Salmon River in less than ten miles. My truck and Airstream handled it fine, but my nerves were tested.

My first trip ever to the West was to this area with my brother John in 1983 when we floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River--six days on a world class river and an introduction to the region where I've spent most of my adult life.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Montana Jake

Jake on our hike this morning in Pattee Canyon, just outside of Missoula. One happy puppy.

Tree Magic--The Western Larch

I never knew there was such a thing but the yellow pines here are a species called Western Larch--a deciduous coniferous tree. The larch is one of only two coniferous species that loses its needles. The needles change color and drop off in the autumn. They were feathery in appearance and spectacular.

Fall Color, Montana Style

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Trek West


Morning Depart Jackson, Michigan, just west of Ann Arbor
Early evening Cross the Mississippi River, I-90, Minnesota
Evening Sleep in Walmart parking lot, Fairmont, Minnesota


Most of day Cross South Dakota, does it ever end?
Mid day Pit stop at Wall Drug, South Dakota tourist stop that had been advertised for 300+ miles
Evening Sleep in Garryowen, Montana at closed RV park parking lot, free but no hookups, again


Mid day Pit stop at the continental divide near Butte, Montana, Jake plays in the snow, I chat it up with father and son pair of pheasant hunters who're on their way home
Afternoon Arrive Missoula, Montana and an RV park with full hookups, showers, and Internet

Jake and I covered 1,800 miles in 2.5 days.

Tuesday was the longest with over 750 miles driven. We're staying in Missoula for two nights before the final 220 miles to Lewiston, Idaho.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dee . . . Troit!

I got a taste of Detroit this past weekend. There for a show, I hooked up with my friend Sven and got a small sampling of what the motor city has to offer.

With Sven's assistance I managed to back the Airstream in to its tightest spot yet. It barely fit on the narrow single-lane driveway next to Sven's 1920s house. Neighbors had to move cars for us when I was arriving and departing.

I met Sven's wife Kristen (he was single when we first met). He's a journalist and an amazingly good guy--Kristen is a gem too and is about to add a third to their young family.

We were all busy, but still managed to hang out. One of the coolest things we did was go to dinner at a place called Union Street on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. My maternal grandparents are from Detroit. Back in their day the restaurant we ate at was Italian and called Arturo's. While I don't know for sure if they ever went there, I had a strong feeling that they'd been there too. They've been gone since 1985 and 1990--it was nice to imagine I was visiting an old haunt of theirs.

The restaurant was done up in high art deco style that clearly dated from the 1930s but has been faithfully kept up over the decades. I love art deco. Airstream's were born in that same decade and boast the streamlined design also used in the deco style. The interior of my trailer is pure 1970s, but the exterior maintains the 1930s design of the original Airstreams.

Amy Sorensen of Lebe Loola jewelry took care of Jake (my pup) and I spent Sunday night at her very cool 1920s house in Jackson, Michigan, west of Ann Arbor. Muchos muchos gracias for taking great care of the Jakester.

On my way out of Michigan on Monday I was able to meet up with another dear friend, Jennifer D., formerly of Salt Lake City. She's got an amazing spirit and it was a joy to see her.

Michigan is a great state and so different from Ohio--it's neighbor and my home state. It's very much a water state with a strong orientation to the Great Lakes and the smaller lakes of northern Michigan. My family vacationed there when I was young and I've been back a few times because my younger brother is based on Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. October is a good time to be heading out of Michigan too. The winter is long and brutal. For Airstreamers like me, that means it's time to head towards warmer climates (Arizona is coming in about 10 weeks).

The Detroit show went well. Considering the economy there, I was very happy. Thanks to everyone who made it a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Visiting the new cottage at Sandstone Farm, Ohio

Last night I spent the night with my inspirational friend Francis. We were at her farm.

She's owned the place for 17 years. She keeps ten horses there, along with two barn cats, three dogs, and a semi-adopted racoon. The driveway to the house and barn is almost a mile long.

Francis has recently been through some major changes in her life. She owns a few beautiful, though neglected houses in Mansfield that she rents and lives in. She spreads herself thin with her full time job, she also owns and runs a separate small business, and manages her farm by herself.

This year she's put a ton of energy into revamping the property. It's called Sandstone Farm and it's in northern Richland County, Ohio. It includes over 240 acres of beautiful Ohio woodlands and fields. The name comes from the house which is built from sandstone blocks. Other than a brief period the house has been empty for at least 30 years. She lived there for about a year seven years back, but it was more like camping. There was not much of a roof, no windows, and no running water. Most tent camping I've done was in higher style and provided more comfort. She got so sick living there in the winter that she relented and returned to civilization.

Her dream has been to live on the property. But it's not exactly up to contemporary living standards. Nevertheless, in late September she moved back out to a cabin where she will be living for at least a year, until she can get the main house usable again.

The cabin is cozy and very cool.

It was just a little plywood building when I last saw it. Now it's got rough hewn planks on the interior walls, insulation (everywhere but the floor--which is plywood suspended over dirt), new wood siding, six new windows, and even heating. There is still no running water--she showers in town.

It looks great, especially from the perspective of this full time Airstreamer. I purchased a second Airstream and she considered moving in to that, but sadly opted out for her self-made cabin, which I admit is cool and more appropriate to her needs.

Her barn is in great shape. For her birthday my mom and I gave her a load of gravel to fill a huge hole between the barn and the paddock where the horses come in and out daily. For too long the hole was a pit of mud and muck. It's now solid ground and should stay dry.

I took my Airstream out for the night and we had dinner in there. Francis looked very elegant eating dinner on the couch of my traveling home. There is nothing like an Airstream to add a touch of refinement to a once neglected farm.

It was fun and wonderful to see her living on her property again. While she has a long way to go, her living quarters this time around are much better than when she lived in the stone house seven years ago.

It will take time but if the progress she's made this year is any indicator, this will be one amazing property very soon.

My Airstream has now visited horse farms in South Carolina, Virginia, New York, and Ohio.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ten Ohio Days in October

Utahredrock is back in Ohio for ten days. This weekend we had a show at our family farm.

On October 1st I gave a talk on meteorites at Kingwood Center in Mansfield to the Richland Lapidary Society. The talk emphasized the profound impact rocks from space have had on our planet. It featured a discussion of the meteorite that hit earth 65 million years ago and took out 70% of all species including the dinosaurs.

We also were covered by the local television station WMFD who spent an hour interviewing me on Saturday. That was fun.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wall of Gemstone Beads

Here are just some of the beads that were on sale this weekend.

Richland County's Best Rock Shop

A sample of the cool rocks and minerals we have. Tumbled rocks of many types, rough citrine and amethyst (Brazil), geodes, petrified wood . . .

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Jewelry of Lebe Loola

Utahredrock proudly offers the jewelry of Lebe Loola--set in silver by Amy Sorensen. Going counter-clockwise from the lower left (excluding the cab of dino bone in red): black onyx bracelet, ammonite pendant with pearl, dinosaur bone (black) bracelet, painted jasper pendant and earrings, Crazy Creek Colorado turquoise bracelet, in the center are various earrings--the red are fossilized dinosaur bone from Utah, upper right a brown jasper bracelet, above that black onyx cufflinks, upper left large turquoise pendant of Leadville, Colorado turquoise, and red ocean jasper pendant.