Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chopping wood, Ohio

Chopping wood with my niece at Fox Hollow, in Lexington, Ohio. The wood splitter was purchased in the 1970s or early 1980s. It's a monster of a machine and works fast. Photo by John M. Breitinger.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Country cousins, Ohio

Two of my cousins photographed at Tally Ho Farm, near Alexandria, Ohio. In the 1970s and 1980s I spent a lot of time at this farm. When this Christmas day photo was taken, I was jetting through the skies en route to Columbus from Phoenix. Photo by John M. Breitinger.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lolo Soetoro

One of my minor accomplishments this year was contributing to the world of human knowledge by creating the article on Wikipedia on Barack Obama's stepfather--Lolo Soetoro. The article required much defending, but at this point I think it is there to stay.

Like Colin Powell, I was offended both by the false charge that Obama was a Muslim and the notion that if true it would disqualify him from office. Smears and guilt by associaton were the evidence provided, including the charge that Obama's stepfather was a radical Muslim. From the research I've done along with reporters and other Wikipedia authors, there isn't much credence to those charges.

If you do a Google search on his name, this article is the number one result.

Check it out at

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An Edward Abbey loop

I left Phoenix Thanksgiving morning, heading north. I passed by Southwestern Academy and Sedona then climbed up the Mogollon Rim to the Colorado Plateau--the elevated, magical, almost mythical geophysical province that sprawls across northern Arizona, southern Utah, and spills over into Colorado and New Mexico. I continued through Flagstaff, across the "painted desert," over the Little Colorado (just east of the Grand Canyon), and paused at the infamous Glenn Canyon Dam before arriving in Kanab, Utah--where I spent 1.5 days with some friends, and their family.

This morning I began the loop back to Phoenix, heading through polygamist country (at Fredonia and Colorado City), St. George, the Virgin River Gorge (along I-15) and then Vegas where I am currently parked in a Starbucks. The next stop will be Quartzsite, and I'll probably press on to Phoenix tonight.

This is a stunning and unique part of the world. My route until I left Utah was made famous by Edward Abbey (among others), along with his fictional characters George Hayduke, Bella Abbzug, Seldom Seen Smith, and Doc Jarvis. If you haven't read it yet, and you're an American with an interest in the West--I encourage you to read The Monkey Wrench Gang, at your earliest convenience.

Frank Sinatra, hosted by Judy Collins on Sirius Satellite Radio provided the soundtrack this morning.

It was a good Thanksgiving and even with the gloomy economy I am thankful for so much. I'll mention two things briefly. First, I am thankful for my very good friend Kellie Forbes, and her family who took me in for 1.5 days in Kanab. I've always been a tourist or traveler passing through that beautiful and remote town--but this time I got a taste of the local culture which is as colorful and interesting as the culture anywhere. Kanab is American Jesus Country--Latter Day Saints style. The LDS people have become pretty unpopular with many of my friends, but my personal ties to Kellie and her family far outweigh any political opinions of mine. These are very good people.

The second thing I am thankful for is something a little more abstract perhaps. I am thankful to live in times when I can see so much of the world. Traveling is an important part of my life and it's so easy and relatively cheap to do right now. The current crash in fuel prices, while not good for our fuel consumption habits, allowed me to relish (with little financial pain) the open road of the American West--a place where I am very much at home. On this trip I paid my all time low price for diesel fuel, $2.11 per gallon (down from $5 this summer).

In his lifetime, Edward Abbey lamented the loss of the open spaces of the West--and what he percieved as the mindless "Americanization" of some of the last great wild places in the continental United States. While I share some of Abbey's sentiments (please note the word "some" I am no anarchist, for example), even two decades after his death, vast and wide open spaces still exist along the Colorado Plateau. They will likely be there for a long, long time given the scarcity of water in the region--though the inevitiable march of "progress" changes the landscape bit by bit, year by year.

Hopefully, as Americans, we'll follow the advice of contemporary thinkers like Thomas Friedman, and many others, and make American Progress more progressive.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wranger Jim returns

In Springfield, Massachusetts with RJ Masterbug, star horse of the Disney film "Hidalgo." Photo by Joa Sigsbee.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Twenty years visiting Dutchess County

With my sister Cari Swanson as my hostess, I've been visiting Dutchess County for twenty years now. Here we are yesterday. She is on Bond. I am on Cosmo.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Jakester

Stretching our legs on a day with a lot of driving. Arizona has long stretches of wilderness (or near-wilderness) all over the state. Certainly as much as Utah, if not more.

Juniper berries

The most vibrant juniper berries I've ever seen. From Wikipedia: "A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinguishing flavour."

Monday, October 13, 2008

With a little help from my friends

Finally . . . my place is almost presentable. I've been slow moving in getting it set up. This is especially pathetic since living such a simple life as an Airstreamer means there isn't all that much to do.

Nevertheless, it took me a month, but my new Airstreaming setup with my Dulles/Jetson-esque building is finally presentable to friends and family.

Now I'll have to get motivated and invite some people over. I had major help from a couple of friends and one in particular. The big step yesterday was getting my couch and favorite chair out of storage.

Monday, October 06, 2008

An Airstreaming update

We've been back in the Airstream for a month now and are feeling settled again. The view within the trailer is vintage 1973 with plasticky woods, vinyl coatings on the interior aluminum, and large plastic light covers.

We LOVE it all.

I really do need to get motivated and shine the exterior of this thing up. It may be a project that is impractical within the confines of the trailer park.

The bad thing about my current setup is I have a semi-permanent sewer hookup. It would be very difficult for me to unhook for trips and hook back up here.

I have a George Jetson-esque building that I am parked next to--picture the terminal at Dulles Airport with the big sweeping roof. My little version of Dulles serves as potential guest quarters, and storage. I had the floors and wrap-around concrete deck painted before moving in. The trailer is semi-presentable at this juncture, but the inside of my little building is a mess.

The trailer park is in a not so great neighborhood, but well located in town--close to work and all of my usual shopping spots (Trader Joe's being the most important).

Join the lifestyle of the Airstreaming set . . . buy a new or vintage Airstream and live the life you've always dreamed of.


Jim and Jake

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An economic meltdown?

From Jared Bernstein: "Jeez...watching history unfold in front of you like this is sure worth the price of admission, ain't it?"

I'll say. The events this past week in Washington and New York are staggering, breathtaking and unbelievable.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Back in Stanley with a new generation

I was in Idaho for a week helping my sister with her pending move across the country. Here is my nephew John, on the verge of no longer being a little boy. He is nine and will be a teenager in the blink of an eye. We were hiking in the mountains near Stanley, Idaho.

This is the most photogenic kid on earth fighing his innate instincts to ham it up for the camera.
This was my first time back to this part of Idaho in 25 years.

The Idaho high country was the perfect antidote to Arizona's summer heat. The trip a quarter of a century ago was arranged by my grandfather, John Morley. He sent my brother John and I on a trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

The John photographed above is the fourth generation . . . . (labeling my grandfather's the first).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back to Aluminum

After a week that included the highest highs and the lowest lows of the year, Jake and I are taking a break from the city and heading out in aluminum. We're taking the Airstream north for two nights.

On our agenda:

A fellow Airstreamer's first photo show at a gallery in Prescott.

A party for a dear friend in her mid-thirties who just earned her bachelor's degree in education from Western Governors University! (She chose them before I did.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Day at the Office

Astronaut Mark Kelly, STS-124 commander, looks over a checklist on the flight deck of Space Shuttle Discovery during flight day 12 activities. Photo and text from NASA

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Can it be real?

Can it be? How can it be? Think of the marvel of the human mind and human accomplishment. "Here is a fan of solar arrays, a partial view of International Space Station and Earth's horizon. Photo by a STS-124 crew member on the International Space Station before space shuttle Discovery undocked from the station." Photo and quoted text from NASA

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mark and His Crew

The STS-124 crew members pose for a portrait in the the Kibo Japanese Pressurized Module of the International Space Station while space shuttle Discovery is docked with the station.

Photo and text from NASA

Friday, June 06, 2008

Where we were: 2007-2008

1. Arizona
2. Utah
3. Colorado
4. Kansas
5. Missouri
6. Illinois
7. Indiana
8. Ohio
9. Michigan
10. Kentucky
11. Tennessee
12. Georgia
13. North Carolina
14. South Carolina
15. Virginia
16. West Virginia
17. Maryland
18. Washington, D.C.
19. Pennsylvania
20. New York
21. Massachusetts
22. Vermont
23. Wisconsin
24. Minnesota
25. South Dakota
26. Wyoming
27. Montana
28. Idaho
29. Oregon
30. Washington
31. California
32. Nevada

For a slightly more detailed look at where we were last year read the Airstreaming Places entry. For even more detail, read this whole blog! ; )

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Greatest Show on Earth, STS-124

"Standby for the greatest show on earth."
.........................................................................Commander Mark Kelly

Those were the words spoken by Mark just before blasting off yesterday.

Watching the shuttle rocket into the heavens was a better show than I could have imagined. Tears were streaming out of both eyes as they headed for orbit. And they get there fast, just 8 and a half minutes! They're called rockets for a reason.

My weekend in Florida at Cape Canaveral with Kim, Inge, Reed, and the Kelly support crew (friends and family), was wonderful.

Thanks Mark and Godspeed to you and your crew up there.

Photo from NASA

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Beyond Cool

It doesn't get any cooler than this. Mark Kelly (far right) and his crew for NASA's mission STS-124 using the Space Shuttle Discovery. I was in Florida for the launch today. Here they are standing in front of the Astrovan. The rest of the text here is from Wikipdedia: "The AstroVan is a NASA vehicle used to transport astronauts to the launch pad before a launch mission. The current model, a modified Airstream Excella motorhome, has been in use since the beginning of the Space Shuttle program in 1981. Similar models have been used since the beginning of the space program. It has a special built-in cooling system for the astronauts to plug in their orange-colored launch and entry suits, so the astronauts do not get overheated during the trip to the launch pad." Photo from NASA

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fellow Airstreamers Show Up During My Staycation

You can't imagine the thrill this morning when I looked out the front of the Airstream and saw . . . Fellow Airstreamers!

Not only that, they, and their Airstream, are quite famous.

Here's a shot of the restored 1961 Airstream Globe Trotter that is known to Airstreaming fans around the world thanks to Douglas Keister's book Silver Palaces.

After being stranded in one single metropolis for almost two months, the sight of fellow Vintage Airstream owners was more welcome than you could ever imagine. They were just here for the night, en route from the Pacific Ocean at California back to their land-based home in Santa Fe.

Jake and I have enjoyed our Staycation this weekend. See Tour of America's May 25th posting for more on that.

The Globe Trotting Pup

Jake's image reflected on the side of the Globe Trotter.

Internationally Reknowned Airstreamer Karin W

Even more exciting than seeing this famous Airstream was meeting its celebrated owners. The more well known of the two is photographer Karin Wikstrom of Santa Fe. She became famous in Airstreaming circles by posing in her Airstream's bathtub, which is what she's sitting on top of in this photo. Airstreamers need to utilize space well and in this restored Airstream they placed the bathtub under the seat for the dinette.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mark is going up!

My friend Mark Kelly is the Commander of the next Space Shuttle mission. I'll be in Florida to see him take off.

Here's a news story this morning on the scheduled trip into the heavens:

Tue May 20, 4:44 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - NASA has given the green light to launch the space shuttle Discovery on May 31 for a mission to the International Space Station, officials said. The Discovery's 14-day mission will include three spacewalks and is to be the second of three missions on which astronauts will install components of the Japanese Kibo laboratory.

The launch is scheduled for 5:02 pm (2102 GMT) at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Discovery mission marks the third for the shuttle this year out of four which have been planned. The final mission, which could take place October 8, aims to repair the Hubble telescope.

After the Discovery's May launch, seven more flights will be necessary to complete the assembly of the International Space station. Two more launches are planned to bring spare parts necessary for station maintenance in the coming years, Gerstenmaier said.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Phoenix One

Quick update. I've just finished my first month back in Phoenix. All's well. The new job is fun and keeping me very busy. Jake gets to come to work with me, which we both love. Just paid for a second month at the RV park here. Will be moving out of the Airstream at the end of that time due to the hellish heat that will be arriving in 3-6 weeks. Don't know where in Phoenix I'll spend the summer, but am thinking I'll be back in the Airstream come October. Time will tell. More later.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway . . .

We is Jake and I.

We were just driving down the Interstate in Phoenix listening to the satellite radio. A duet version of Willie Nelson’s classic On the Road Again was playing.

More than usual, the lyrics hit home for me—because I am essentially off the road again. Giving up the traveling life is fine and I know I too will be on the road again for extended periods, sometime.

While I was feeling wistful listening to the song, I am in fact very happy to be settling in somewhere for the foreseeable future.

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world be turnin' our way
And our way
Is on the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again

Great sentiments and a great song. Great to be off the road too!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What is America to me?

This morning while walking Jake in north Phoenix the words of the Sinatra song were running through my head:

What is America to me?
A name, a map, or a flag I see?
A certain word
What is America to me?

How to answer that?

This past year, and over the course of my life, I've been privileged to see more of this country than most people ever will. Also, for two years of my life I did almost nothing but study American history. So what have I learned about this most powerful nation state?

Too much to cram in to a blog entry, but here are some thoughts nevertheless.

Last night I was standing around with some friends at a small party in Phoenix. The group included the kind of people who go out of their way to contribute to society. They represented America to me. Nearly everyone there was gay, but that fact is minor to who these people are and how they represent this country. One was a candidate for the U.S. Congress. He may not make it into that lowly esteemed body this election cycle but he's the kind of guy who should and will represent his congressional district if he keeps at it. Smart, savvy, committed to a better America. Those are the kind we need in Washington.

This past year I've met all types of people. Different communities dominated my year, but the breadth of my travels and the generosity of friends and family provided glimpses into hundreds of aspects of our culture as I traveled about. Dominant communities included: the rock and gem world, the Airstream world, the interstate highway world, the world of my childhood in Ohio, and of course the eccentric and diverse characters that came to Quartzsite (don't miss my Portraits of Quartzsite series in this space from January and February of 2008).

America is not just rich in wealth, its richest in heart. We screw up for sure. We screw up on individual levels, at the level of community, and on the national level. The mistakes we've made in our so called war on terror are epic in my book, but that's another topic. The freedom and stability that our society gives its citizens is unparalleled in world history and the manifestations of those things in the lives of our people is a thing to behold.

So what is America to me? A name, a map, a flag, an athlete, a veteran, a volunteer, a teacher, a firefighter, a pilot, a lieutenant colonel, his wife, an astronaut, a congresswoman, a philanthropist, a homeless man, a family, a dog, a horsewoman, a horse, an aluminum trailer (and all those other brands of RVs), a voter, an opinion, a set of facts, a blog, a vast and wondrous landscape, a child, an elder, a city, a desert, a mountain, and two oceans--with so much in between.

That is America to me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Snagged by Phoenix

When I hit the road last April I looked forward to the adventure of living in my Airstream and trying to make it with my new business. I had no idea what I was in for. I also didn't know where or when I would stop. I figured I would when the time was right.

What a year it's been--epic beyond my imaginings. Business has been good. I've actually supported myself for a year. That's no small feat, especially given the fact that I had no money to launch this little venture, just credit and grit.

En route to Sedona sixteen days ago I got an unexpected phone call. I'd applied for a job six years ago. I was offered a chance to come in and discuss the job. I went in two days later and accepted a new position. It's in Phoenix. More on the job later--I'll just state now that I am very excited and honored to get this opportunity.

Of all the places I've been this past year, Phoenix is the last place I would have imagined as the one that would get me.

I am writing from Quartzsite, where I am for the night after driving over 700 miles today. In the past two weeks I've done an out and back route. I left Phoenix, stopped in Quartzsite, headed to Salt Lake, then Boise, then Salt Lake, and now I am back in Quartzsite. Including driving in Boise and Salt Lake City, I added over 2,500 miles to my truck. That's almost 10% of the total mileage I've driven the Dodge! Included in that mileage is the final leg back to Phoenix tomorrow.

Even Jake's tired from that amount of travel. It's been a busy two weeks that included liquidating parts of my inventory. Utahredrock will continue in the future, most likely as a part-time business. The business is on hold for the short term starting tomorrow.

I plan to continue to live in my Airstream for the foreseeable future. Where in Phoenix I do so remains to be seen. After a year on the road, I am ready to park for a while. Even with summer quickly approaching the Valley of the Sun, the idea of being in one place is appealing--though I may look to land-based housing to better escape the heat.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Four Thousand Gone

The media is reporting tonight that 4,000 American servicemen and women have died in Iraq.


Plus tens of thousands physically maimed and no doubt hundreds of thousands emotionally maimed.

Plus thousands of dead American contractors.

And the Iraqis . . . . how many tens of thousands of them are dead?

4,000 plus so much more.

So much went so wrong in this effort to "liberate a people." So much.

Four thousand gone, and so much more.

Chef Paul

Paul Hansen of Verde Valley School hosted a party last night in Sedona. Paul's been a great friend for almost five years. This was my second visit to see Paul and his family since I became a full time Airstreamer just under a year ago. Verde Valley School and the Hansen's were my first stop after leaving Phoenix last April.

Jake in Sedona

The sweetest dog in the world. Jake and I enjoyed our brief visit to the redrock country of Sedona.

Airstream Visitor Luke Lamont

My psuedo-nephew (technically he's my first cousin once removed) brought his family to see the Airstream tonight. Thanks to Lisa, Chris, and Lyndsey for coming along! Luke rode with Jake and me in the Dodge on the 15 mile trip from his house to the Airstream (the rest of the family followed in another car). He asked over and over: "Where's the Airstream?"

The answer: "It's down the road Luke, down the road."

The Airstream won over another new fan tonight.

New Airstream Life Reader

Airstream Life brilliantly celebrates the Airstreaming lifestyle. Here's new reader and aspiring Airstream owner Nate Hansen enjoying his first issue.

Nate is an outstanding writer. He is also blessed and cursed with a fertile mind. Check out for an outward manifestation of his inner space.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Sonoran

Other than the two plus weeks of my swing through southern California, I've been here in the Sonoran Desert since late December. It's a great place to winter and Jake and I have enjoyed it thoroughly with many desert hikes and stunning sunsets. Tonight was another. Here are Saguaro Cacti. An easily recognizable symbol of Arizona, they are only found in the Sonoran Desert. With spring here I'll be Airstreaming out of this gorgeous desert next week. As nice as it is in the winter, I don't recommend the summers.

Cholla Cacti

The Cholla is another signature cactus of the Sonoran Desert. In the top of this photo you can see the edge of the RV park. Over the past 50 years, and at an increasing rate in the past 15, the Sonoran Desert has been taken over by pavement and development. While it's hard to forget you're in a desert in Phoenix, it's easy to forget you're in the Sonoran Desert. One of the worlds most beautiful and unique deserts, it is succumbing to a sprawling urban area built using the suburban model of post-WWII America. Sonoran plants have been replaced by exotic species, including lots of palm trees and heavily watered grass.

Park Homes in my "RV Park"

These park homes, clearly not recreational vehicles (RVs), dominate Pioneer RV Park. Of the 600 or so spaces here well over half have this type of mobile home. Even so, and despite my initial entry, this place is quite different from the trashier looking trailer parks that built my biased attitude about trailer park living. People have winter homes here. Less than 15% of the spaces are occupied year-round. The place is well kept, safe, clean, and nice.


Giant motor homes with pop-out slides are the rage in the RV world. Here is shot of my home tonight. My modest Airstream and truck look puny next to these monsters of the road. In the foreground is rig a that's housing two couples this weekend (and two new Utahredrock customers!). In the background two grandparents are hosting their grandchildren for an evening and celebrating Easter with their whole family. This is my tightest quarters since Quartzsite in January.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Embracing My Inner Trailer Trash

When people ask me where I'm from I often begin to answer by proudly declaring that I am trailer trash--Airstreaming around the continent. Where am I from? Phoenix and Sedona are where I maintain a legal residence and get my mail. But I am from wherever I am.

Saying I'm trailer trash, while true, is generally offered as a tongue in cheek declaration.

Today I left Tucson and returned to Phoenix. The place I chose to set up the Airstream for five days, Pioneer RV Park, is trailer trash central.

There's a line that separates RV parks from trailer parks. Some places are both, but if they're both then in my book they're firmly on the trailer park side of the line. This place is a trailer park. There's a combination of RVs and "park homes" which are mobile homes of the type that aren't mobile.

Pioneer RV Park is nice enough, but it's big and crowded. It's exactly the kind of place I've avoided since becoming an Airstreamer. Yet as I truly embrace my inner trailer trash I find myself accepting this type of place more readily. The full hookups and the ability to be in my "own" space are appealing.

I arrived today and set up. This is a process that involves unhitching, plugging in to electric, hooking up water and sewer, unloading extra items, stashing them below the Airstream, and straightening up on the inside.

This "RV park" has almost 600 spaces. It's just huge. When I took Jake on his evening walk we walked around the outside perimeter of the property. It took us a full 45 minutes to complete the circle. Inside the circle: trailer park hell. Outside: the Sonoran Desert in all of its finest glory. The sun was setting, the moon approaching full, the desert shockingly green and fresh.

I am continuing my focus on "office work" including taxes, my schedule, marketing, phone calls, and so forth. With the Internet and my cell phone at hand I can do this work just about anywhere. I now use Verizon Broadband--which accesses the Internet via the cell phone system.

And I am back in Phoenix, Arizona and the Valley of the Sun where this whole adventure was launched last year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Airstreaming Places

I am approaching my one year anniversary as a full-time Airstreamer. Here is a review of some of the places I've taken the Airstream in the past year:

1. Malibu
2. Bluff, Utah--one of my few Colorado Plateau stops. That region, especially the southern Utah portion remains my favorite place on earth.
3. Fox Hollow--our family farm in Ohio. There's still no place like home.
4. Red Barn Stables, Aiken, South Carolina--Nothing can match a southern hostess. Gina was one of the greats of the past year in welcoming me and showing me a good time.
5. Missoula, Montana--A true gem of the Rockies. I loved this town.
6. Windrock Farm, Dutchess County, New York--the place my sister Cari has called home for over a decade. It was nice to be somewhere so familiar and so gorgeous.
7. GSM Vehicles, Plattsburgh, New York--A focal point in the movement to restore and celebrate Airstreams as icons of stylish living and fun.
8. Perry, Georgia--Host town of the International Airsteam Rally of 2007 and the site of my baptism in to the cult.
9. Whiskey Creek West, Kuna, Idaho--The western location of my sister Elise's farm. Home to one of my self-produced and self-promoted shows.
10. KOA in Salinas, Kansas--The third RV park I visited after becoming an Airstreamer and a nice stop along the road as I headed east last year.
11. 200 East, Salt Lake City--Pippa and Kirk's urban residence.
12. Detroit--Sven and Kristen's urban residence.
13. Sandstone Farm, Mansfield, Ohio--Where I spent a cozy fall evening with my friend Francis on her amazing Ohio property.
14. Nez Perce County Fairgrounds, Lewiston, Idaho--This was the furthest in to the Northwest that the Airstream made it (I continued throughout Oregon and Washington without it). Lewiston is right on the state line separating Idaho and Washington. Nez Perce's was just one of the many fairgrounds I stayed in be they county, state, or private.
15. Quartzsite! The small Arizona town I fell in love with and spent 50 days in, by far a record. There is, after all, something to be said about being in one place.

It's a little crazy because there are over 20 other places I've parked my traveling home in the past year. That's a lot of places. Many traveling businessmen and women (or performers) could easily match this number of places they've stayed. But unless they have an RV, they had to endure them without the comforts of home. And especially if they don't have an Airstream, well, just imagine the hardship . . . .

; )

Friday, March 14, 2008

Progress in the Old Pueblo

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Slowly and steadily, I am making progress on dozens of neglected things. At the top of that list is my show schedule (paying sales taxes is second). I screwed up and failed to book an important show on time in Cincinnati. It looks like I'll get in after all, however, I'll be in an area off the main show floor.

Running your own business poses many challenges, especially when it's mainly a one man (and one dog) show like mine is. There are a lot of hats to wear. Some are easier and more natural to put on. Some you just plain forget to put on. All are important. Keeping the revenue coming in is critical, but planning the direction of your business and handling important details (like taxes) are just as important--and much easier to neglect.

I am enjoying my time in Tucson. I've spent time with my friends here at the Air Force base as well as many hours in the Airstream just working. I've also seen Rich, Eleanor, and Emma Luhr--the family behind the wonderful magazine Airsream Life. Rich gave me 15 copies of the magazine tonight which I'll be passing out to other Airstreamers I meet on the road.

Also tonight I completed my third session of Bikram Yoga. I am getting addicted. I already started searching the web to see if it's available on future stops along the road. I look pretty safe for at least the next few weeks. Maintaining a consistent routine can be tough, especially when you're constantly in a different place. It's possible though, and critical. For me doing something physical daily, or almost daily, is a key ingredient to sanity--or as close to sanity as I ever get!

My itinerary is shaping up a bit more each day. I'll head to Phoenix next Wednesday. Sometime in late March (date unknown) I'll head back to Salt Lake City. Around April 8th it's on to Albuquerque. After that I'll point the Dodge and Airstream east. I am in the middle of booking shows right now. Just like last year, Ohio will become my basecamp in late April or early May and will remain so well in to June. I am optimistic that April and May will be booked every weekend or almost every weekend. In fact there are possibilities through Sunday June 8th, at which point I'll need another break for some catch-up. Last year July and August were tougher to book so we'll see what I come up with this go around.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Historic Architect Taylor Louden

Historic architect Taylor Louden was tasked with the seismic retrofitting and restoration of the Will Rogers residence in the Pacific Pallisades section of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains. The residence and property are now a state park--deeded to the state by Will Rogers' widow. Louden toured me through the home and around the property ten days ago. It was a highlight of my time in California. Taylor is also the man who recommended I park the Airstream in Malibu.

Will Rogers was an actor, cowboy, and beloved social commentator of the early 20th century. He died in a plane crash in 1935, an event that left the nation reeling. Rogers was something of a Mark Twain of his day. His home is beautifully preserved for posterity. It was an honor and thrill to tour the property with Taylor who spent years painstakingly restoring it. Today the Rogers' home is presented as it was in 1935 at the time of his death. It's filled with beautiful sporting art collected by one of the greatest horsemen of all time.

Will Rogers' Barn

As a horseman and someone who has spent a considerable amount of my life in and around barns, they have a special interest for me. I've seen fancier barns, but Will Rogers' stables will forever stand out as one of my favorites. There are two wings of stalls connected by a rotunda that serves as a round pen for training the horses. It's an impressive building. A mountain rises up from the rear of the building. Below you can see the view from the front.

The View From Will Rogers' Barn

The property Will Rogers chose to live on was a premier piece of land in the 1920s and remains so today. Tom Hanks, Diane Keaton, and Steven Spielberg are all neighbors. The best view on the land was saved for the horses and those who cared for and rode them. Here is the view from the barn overlooking the Santa Monica Bay. This is the only place on the property with this breathtaking view.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Place in Malibu

For two weeks this is my California home. The Pacific Ocean is directly in front of me here. This is undoubtedly the nicest place I've parked my Airstream--and it is surprisingly affordable too.

My Paparazi Photo

Not much more than a few hundred feet from where I'm parked sits the trailer belonging to one of the world's most famous Airstreamers. To protect the privacy of this individual I am not putting his name here. He lived in this RV park for an extended period. He's not here now, but his Airstream remains. According to one of the celebrity rags he is in another part of the country working on a project. He's purchased a regular house again--and is no longer full-timing with his Airstream.

A View from Malibu Beach RV Park

A late model Airstream, some other brands of RVs, and the Pacific coast at Malibu. With people coming and going frequently the numbers change often but there have been a minimum of six and as many as twelve Airstreams ever since I arrived. At 35 years old, mine is the oldest. That's the most Airstreams I've ever seen at an RV park. Apparently Airstreamers are attracted to amazing places like this one.

At Home in Malibu

Photo by my sister Cari Swanson. It was Cari's visit to Los Angeles that prompted this southern California swing for me. Even though Cari is one of the most photogenic people I know, I didn't take many photos during her visit and have no decent ones of her. We had a great time together, seeing each other five days in a row. She even spent one night with me in the Airstream and we watched the Oscars together.

Meanwhile, Back in the North Country . . .

Mother and daughter . . . don't they look glamorous? My sister-in-law Jennifer and my niece Eva enjoying the Minnesota winter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Malibu

Jake is on holiday in Phoenix at his puppyhood home and I just arrived in Malibu! This is my first visit to this storied location and as you can see above, I landed in a spectacular spot. From my bedroom/living room/kitchen window I look out over the Pacific. My sister Cari who is out visiting from New York, passed me on the Pacific Coast Highway as I was arriving and followed me in to the RV park.

We each tried to park in my spot here, a difficult backing and turning operation. The guy across from me in the RV park (who is here from Quebec tent camping) offered to park the Airstream since neither Cari nor I were having much luck. He whipped it in to the spot and I am now set up for my Malibu stay.

Photo courtesy of Malibu Beach RV Park.

Quartzsite: It's a Wrap

Fifty days after arriving at this little desert outpost, we're finished. My time in Quartzsite has been amazing. Jake loved it too. Business was good and I've met people I'll remember for the rest of my life. Hopefully I'll see many again.

My good friends and fellow trailerites Dan and Darla came up from Tucson last weekend with their new truck and travel trailer. They have a rig very similar to mine, although they got a S.O.B. (some other brand--not an Airstream). Their trailer is very nice and has a killer floor plan. It was their second trip with their new traveling home. Darla will be full-timing starting in June when Dan heads overseas for a year on assignment with the United States military.

Utahredrock supporter Tom Collins helped me pack up this week. He helped out a lot these past couple of weeks. I am now loaded up and about to head west on Interstate 10. It's crazy how much stuff I have at the end of the show--Quartzsite is a great place to buy and stock up.

Scroll down to view the "Portraits of Quartzsite" series, dedicated to the interesting characters I met during the 2008 season. The series is just beyond photos of new inventory.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

With Darla

The Airstreaming Rock Dealer and Darla. I was blessed, really blessed, to have many friends come visit me in remote Quartzsite. Here I am with my dear friend Darla.

The Final Weekend

Closing up shop this past Saturday, my second to last day open for business in Quartzsite.

The Q Marketplace

Another day at the market with Darla's beaming smile and me seriously at work!

Conducting Business

Me, two customers, and Tom Collins (far right) who helped considerably in the last weeks of the show.

A Man and His Airstream

Looking somewhat beat at the end of a long day, here I am with my 1973 Airstream.

Photo by Bryan Edmonds.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Campo del Cielo Meteorite

31 pound Campo del Cielo meteorite (April update: on hold with customer). We have all types of meteorites and all sizes starting at $15. This piece is museum quality. Wooden foo dog in rear (sold).

Pietersite Pendant by Lebe Loola

Pietersite is a stone from Namibia. This pendant ($375) is a good example of the simple but elegant work of Amy Sorensen's Lebe Loola line of jewelry. To see a few more pieces, as well as a handful of other jewelry currently available from Utahredrock, go to the Archive (upper right of this page) and click on the year 1999.

Buddha Carved in Relief (and other pieces)

March 3rd update: The Buddha in relief has sold . . . items in background still available.

Foo Dog, Amber Figurines, Carved Stone Discs, Amethyst

March 3rd update: Big foo dog has sold, other items still available.

Horses in Stone

Two horses playing. Carved from stone, approximately 150 pounds ($750). These horses are available to southern California residents. They are at a friend's warehouse in North Hollywood. Please call me if interested: 928.300.8010. Jim.

Fossil Products from Utahredrock

Trilobites, orthoceras, mosasaurus, ammonites--all from Morocco.