Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto and Tigers

When I checked my computer this morning I got the news that Benazir Bhutto was dead at the hand of an assassin. The big story of the day before was the mauling at the San Francisco Zoo. These are quite different happenings, but both got my attention.

The incident in San Francisco was tragic and shocking, though also along the lines of bad things that occur as a price for living. Horrific, yes. Earth shattering, no. I was in San Francisco that same day, and at one point was trying to figure out how to spend half the day while waiting to go to a dinner. I never thought about the zoo, but my relative proximity to that bizarre event still got my attention. As we all know, we never know what's next.

All of that could be said of Bhutto's murder as well.

Her death is emblematic though of a Muslim world gone wild. Muslims aren't the only ones who assassinate their leaders, but this assassination is anything but a surprise. According to the reports on her life today she was an imperfect soul, and yet all agree an extraordinary one too. It's the frenzy of hatred and violence that is so dominant in the Muslim world that is disturbing.

Bhutto stood for democracy and stability in a nation that has neither. Her brave choice to return from the safety of exile to bring change to her country is the act of a great woman. Her death is a tragedy for all humans.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Summit

Jake and I on the summit of Mission Peak. Mission Peak Ranch, our home for the moment, is visible just to our left. This was our second trip to the summit in two days, this time with the entire Montgomery family.

The Aussies

Jade, Phil, Tully, and Kylie Montgomery this morning on Mission Peak.

A View of Mission Peak Ranch

Note the Airstream just to the left of the barn. OK, I am a littile obsessed with my traveling aluminum home. Double-click on this photo to get a better view.

Jake and I

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lazy Day in California

Had a very lazy day today, and it was a treat.

I arrived here two days ago. Here is Mission Peak Ranch--Jason Hart's piece of the American Dream. Jason is an Aussie. He's got 125 acres in the San Francisco Bay area. It's on the edge of the metro area, but very close to the metropolis too.

We're surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of open space to our west. To the east a few miles is urban sprawl and the SF Bay itself. Right here though there is a lot of land--the kind of set up I love the most.

I cleaned up the Airstream this morning and had a few visitors today--fellow guests here at Jason's ranch. A few more people are coming tomorrow. I also moved the trailer to a flatter spot. That, and a few other minor things amounted to my productive efforts today. I was invited to dinner, and turned down the invitation because I didn't want to drive anywhere.

Jake and I hiked to the summit of Mission Peak, just over 2,500 feet above sea level and about 500 feet above the ranch. He had a great day--he was free to roam most of the day and loved it. We're literally at the end of the road up here, so no road worries with the pup.

Tonight I watched Road Warrior starring Mel Gibson. The film is a late 20th century classic and a cult film. It's set in a post-apocalyptic period with hardened characters who've been through hell on earth. In the movie they are battling it out for gasoline--a dwindling but still important resource. It was a low budget independent film that propelled Gibson to stardom. It was good, though I didn't love it. It was a movie I am glad I saw--it influenced a lot of other films.

Last night the caretaker at the ranch was jamming with his Bluegrass band. That's more up my alley.

Nice to have such an easy day. Not many this year!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Morning at Mission Peak Ranch

The sun rose on a happy Airstreamer this morning. Ensconsed on a mountain ranch in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area--this is Airstreaming paradise.

Greeted by Phil Montgomery

Phil Montgomery and his new, decked out, Mini. Phil is a technology entrepeneur and a successful executive. He's a great guy and he is my connection to Jason Hart and Jason's ranch at Mission Peak. Phil met me at the ranch to help me get settled in. He just moved back from Australia in June with his family. We all lived in Utah together in the mid-1990s where we first met. We seem to meet up in all corners of the Americas from the Amazon rain forest to Washington, D.C., and now the mountains of the San Francisco Bay Area.

There's Cows in Them Ther' Hills

The last four miles of the trip to California from Utah were by far the most interesting. The road to the ranch is a wicked, one-lane, mountain road with overhanging branches. It was a workout for my Dodge, pulling us up this mountain. When I looked up and saw cows above me, I had to stop for a photo. You only get an idea from this pic, but these cows (there were more) were one mistep away from landing on top of the Airstream.

Even the Dog Was Disgusted

After 10 hours of driving Tuesday across the Basin and Range country, we arrived at our destination. It was a so-called RV park in Reno, Nevada. As you can see, the park was just a parking lot at a casino. As ridiculous as it was, it served our purposes. We had electric, got a good nights sleep, had a shower in the morning, and then got the heck out of the there. Jake couldn't believe it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Basin and Range

John McPhee wrote a great book called Basin and Range. It's part of series he did on Interstate 80 and I highly recommend it. From Salt Lake City to Reno, my route today, you cross the basin and range country. It is characterized by one mountain range after another. Each is separated by 20 to 50 miles of desert (the Great Basin). This is the driest section of the continental United States. This photo is a typical view along this 520 mile stretch.

Along I-80 at Pilot Peak, Nevada

Pilot Peak in the background rises to 10,720 feet--that is well over 5.000 feet higher than my truck and Airstream in this photo.


Jake in Nevada today with a circa 1950s International Harvester pickup.

Monday, December 10, 2007

California Here We Come

Tomorrow we head to California! I'll be based on a friend's ranch near Fremont in the San Francisco Bay area.

Planning on a two day drive from Salt Lake City--with a loaded truck and a loaded Airstream. Today I borrowed a tent I'll need in January. It's 10 feet by 20. I thought it would be big, but didn't take into consideration the 360 pounds of cement that come with it! There are eight 45 pound pieces of cement that anchor the tent to the ground. I've picked up other inventory here in Salt Lake as well. When I load up tomorrow I'll be packing in more than ever before.

Last weekend we held The Holiday Show at Sugarhood. The show went well and I reconnected with many old friends. Sugarhood has been home since December 1. It is our nickname for the area just west of Sugarhouse--a part of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Special thanks to Pippa and Kirk, and everyone who was able to come by, as well as those who let me stop by to see them.

California here we come.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Scene from the Sugarhood Show

Visible here: an oval glass dish filled with fossilized dinosaur bone pieces, onyx vases and spheres, New Mexico fluorite bowls (purple), green bowl filled with ocean jasper, labradorite, ceramic mushrooms, tumbled jaspers and petrified wood, gemstone bracelets. In the back in wooden cases (and not visible) is the Jewelry of Lebe Loola.

Sugarhood, Scene Two

Note the ceramic mushrooms on the floor--a new line for me. They're pretty fun.

Parked at Pippa & Kirk's, Salt Lake City

Since my arrival we've had about 20 inches of snow, most of it wet. Most has melted, what's left is ice.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Day with the Mormons

I went south to Utah County today to see some old friends. At the end of the day I realized everyone I saw today is Mormon.

Kim's was the first stop. I met her shortly after moving to Utah in late 1994. We became fast friends and were part of small group that did everything together for a couple of years. At the time we met she was single and approaching her mid-20s. For her crowd that was edging in to getting old for marriage and she was interested in marrying. I'll never forget when she met her man. They were engaged instantly (or so it seemed). Today she has four children and is happily married. They have a beautiful house at the base of the towering Wasatch Mountains. We had a short visit. On the one hand it was like no time had passed at all. On the other, it was a short visit in our lives that are going so stinking fast!

Next was David B. I worked with him at Novell and reconnected with him during the Olympics. He was a volunteer in our division. He drove athletes to and from the major venues. He's a nice guy who's always smiling and great to be around. We had lunch and I showed him some of my jewelry. (Kim saw it too). He bought a few things for Christmas presents--including one of my creations. Again, a short, but sweet visit.

Then I saw Mary and Dale. They're married and acted as my realtors on the purchase and sale of my two Utah County homes. They're both gems--just phenomenal people. Mary turned 80 this month. Eighty! She doesn't look a day over 65. She's healthy and strong and as sharp as ever. For Christmas Dale bought her some of my favorite pieces--some fossilized dinosaur bone jewelry I had made by Amy of Lebe Loola. I told them, and this is true, that my favorite pieces go to my favorite people. They have something like 30 fruit trees on their property and gave me some amazing apples as I was leaving.

Kellie Forbes was next. I met her at her house. She took three of us to a Christmas production called "The Forgotten Carols." I'd heard the music when we were driving back from Portland the day before Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful and clever production focusing on minor characters in the Christmas story. It was great, and especially because I was there with such a good friend, her nine year old daughter, and another friend--Kylie (a young Mormon with two kids).

All of my Mormon friends fit at least some of the stereotypes. They have big families. Family is important. And they eat green jello with marshmellows (kidding!).

I returned to Sugarhood--home for the week--and got to hang out with Pippa before calling it a night. Neither Pippa nor I are Mormon, but my Mormon friends are wonderful. Who cares what someone's religion is? Great people are great people.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Black Tie in Salt Lake

With Martha Ellis in Salt Lake City on December 1, 2007. Martha is the most beautiful firefighter on earth. Her firefighting husband's not so bad either. When I arrived in Salt Lake my friend Pippa had a tux waiting and we had a big night on the town.

Martha and Me