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The Road June/July 2007
Table of Contents
A bit of non-gambling Las Vegas
Don't-miss Sights in San Francisco
Color-coded to your interest: Read this!DancingMusicQuotesSkip this
2008 UpdatePOINT-TO-POINT Distance/Time/Speed STATISTICS
This version contains minor changes, edits, additions, and corrections.
The Original Version

I enjoyed your report — Puter

I'm getting tired just reading about all this activity! — F'Roadrunner

I enjoyed reading your report. — riffsmom

. . . tedious and time consuming — RMM

NOTICE: Some information contained in this report has changed.
Those changes are reported in the 2008 Update that preceeds the
Table of Statistics.

Friday-Sunday, June


June 22-24
June 24
June 25/26

June 27

June 28-July 1
July 2
July 4-8
July 9
July 10
July 11
Monterey Bay Blues Festival
The Road to Yosemite
Yosemite, Bodie, Mono Lake, June Lakes, Manzanar, Bishop, Devil's
            Postpile, Mammoth Lakes, Lone Pine
Panamint Springs, Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, Death Valley Junc-
           tion, Pahrump, Las Vegas
Las Vegas
Blues Jam at the Stratosphere
Greater Phoenix Swing Dance Club's Fourth of July Convention
Blues Jam at the Stratosphere
En route to San Francisco

Thursday, 28 June at 03:36
Days 1-3: Friday-Sunday, June 22-24
ISITED m'mother in Redwood City, rode the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz, checked into a motel, dined at Monterey's Fish House (again!) and went to the opening night of the Monterey Bay Blues Festival (Maria Muldaur, Murray's All-Star Review), the reason we were in Monterey.
………It broke early so we went to Sly McFly's on Cannery Row to dance a bit on its excellent not-quite new floor. Much to our surprise, Shane Dwight was playing!

M'mem'ry says that I've won one Jack 'n' Jill against real dancers with real judges in my life. I still see, and dance with, that partner almost every week.
………When we walked in, she saw a woman jump to her feet in recognition visually saying to her companion “I know him!” and head our way. Before we could sit, she was in my face “Did you used to dance at the Bay Swingers Swing Dance Club?” I hesitantly answered “Yes”. “About fifteen years ago I won a Jack 'n' Jill dancing with you!” Shane Dwight had started a new number so I kept her hand and we had a terrific dance during which I said to her “No wonder we won!”
………But I doubt that we did. Winning against real dancers with real judges is something so rare in my life that I'd surely not forget. We were probably, at best, second.

We spent all day Saturday and Sunday at the Festival hearing Red Beans and Rice, Shane Dwight, Ike & Val (from Miami), EG Kight, Alvon, and bits of Sai Whatt, and the Delta Wires on Saturday and Amy Treadwell, Deanna Bogart, Blue Monday, Bella Blue Band, and Ms. Taylor P. Collins on Sunday.
………Kaye Bohler was at Sly McFly's Saturday and Sunday was the Festival's after party where many of the performers went to have some informal fun and so did we!

………It was a wonderful event, superbly run with a very friendly and appreciative audience, excellent sound, and deliciously unhealthful deep-fried food. We stuck to the equally delicious, less unhealthful fried, steamed, and barbecued foods, especially the turkey legs, from the many purveyors. There were also many vendors of clothing, objects d'art, and jewellery.

Other than us, we were aware of no dancers there except for a local who brought three girls Saturday night. I got t'dance with two of 'em, one a beginner, the other an excellent Follower.
………We don't understand why dancers don't go to such events. The best Swing dance music is The Blues. Where were the Swing dancers?
………Sunday night at the bar, one of the directors said to us “Thank you for sharing your energy at the Festival”. We were very appreciative of that.
………A thing I particularly enjoy when Waltzing is looking down the floor the long way to see the many dancers moving to the music as one. A lovely sight! Well, Saturday night, there were hundreds of 'Lectric Sliders that we viewed from a height of about fifteen feet. What a sight! A T-formation in front of the stage and the aisle leading to it. Wow!

We're glad we went and can unreservedly recommend the Monterey Bay Blues Festival, last week-end in June, to anyone who digs d'Blues!

She wants you to know that a few of the women were extremely well dressed, from head to toe, as were many of the guys in outfits with hats, shoes, and even spats. I noticed the miles of cleavage.

Days 4 and 5, Monday and Tuesday, June 25 and 26
HIT The Road at 12.6.* We paid brief visits to Misión San Juan Bautista and Casa de Fruita. We usually stop at the Romero Overlook but, having plenty of fresh water, did not do so. The reservoir is way down, frighteningly so. I'm sure I'll have the same t'say of Lake Mead when I cross Boulder Dam on the way to Phoenix.
………We stopped by Merced's lovely former County Courthouse and got gas for $3.05 with the intent that it get us to Pahrump that I estimated to be four hundred miles distant.
………We got to Yosemite's Bridal Veil Trickle around 18.6 and walked up to its rainbow'd base. Then messed around Yosemite 'round Sunset with a lovely 2/3 Moon before dining at Yosemite Lodge. Although the Sun was gone, the Moon provided lovely illumination for our trip to Lee Vining where we got the last room in town.

We hit The Road to Bodie, where we spent about an hour, at 11.2. We returned to Lee Vining via the Cottonwood Canyon Road. Although it appears to be twelve miles shorter, it takes about the same amount of time. Fortunately, it was steeply downhill almost all the way with some lovely and interesting geological niceties to see and the occasional rusted implement.
………We had planned to take the June and Mammoth Lakes loops but decided not to. And we also did not revisit the Devil's Postpile.

Our previous visits to Manzanar were at night so we never got to see the indoor exhibits. Well, we did this time. Although I knew a great deal about what was done to our fellow citizens (one even took me to dinner upon receiving his apologitary money from the gummint) I was not prepared for the overwhelming senses of shame and anger that caused me to collapse into uncontrollable sobs. I hadda get outta dere! I know I'll never visit the Holocaust museum in Israel nor the atomic bomb one(s) in Japan. I didn't know I shouldn't've visited Manzanar.
………It was 95°F when we got back on The Road at 16.8 and quickly rose to 111°F (according to the shaded thermometer at Stovepipe Wells) but falling to 105°F by the time, 19.1, we go to Furnace Creek Ranch. It is that section of road where I've previously been unable to keep the car much below 100mph but this time I managed, only once noticing it was going faster than 90mph. We stopped many times to look at dis 'n' dat, the early evening colors and long shadows dazzling the eye.
………In recent years, we've had no fewer than three meals at the Wrangler Steakhouse at Furnace Creek Ranch. Our previous meals were excellent, beautifully prepared, flavorful, and nicely served. Although our server was OK this time, our food left a great deal to be desired. We presume there's a new chef we hope is soon replaced by a better one.
………Our first meal there, the server pointed out that the amount was service compris explaining that so many Europeans, unaccustomed to tipping, visit in the Summer months. Our second meal there, the server didn't mention that fact but of course, I knew. This time, again, the server didn't say anything about that. Even though it's clearly shown, the tag also provides a place to tender a tip. Tsk-tsk.

The sign sez “Next Services 57 miles” I told her and commented that “the car says it can go 60 miles. She was frantic: “That's only three miles!!!” “So?”
………I sneakily turned off the air conditioner as we were to climb almost 2,900 feet to get gas. The car usually expresses its thirst around 31 miles to go but it did so this time at 24 miles to go. Six miles before the station, the car, saying it could go no farther, pleaded to be fed; it gulped down 18.087 gallons of gas in a tank that I believe holds 18.1 gallons.

Friday, 29 June at 02:18:06
Day Six: Wednesday, June 27
S USUAL our first day in the oppressive heat of Las Vegas we didn't leave the house 'til our Sun was near the Western horizon. We went to what's probably a franchise to eat a mediocre meal and hit The Strip around 21:30 when it dawned on me that we should go to the 22:30 performance of Zumanity.
………It's a very funny and cutely risqué show hosted by an obvious (to us, but I think not to the general audience) drag queen who kinda sorta revealed himself late in the show delivering the line “Luke Skywalker, I'm your father” in a very deep and masculine voice.
………The theatre seats only 1,200. Ours was a quite good one, in the orchestra on the center aisle about forty feet from the stage.
………Among the performers was a contortionist who did frightening things with his body. Two girls, probably gay, who did a lovely acrobatic and balancing act on, around, and in a bowl of water. A very well developed dwarf who did some acrobatics that were, because of his size, extremely quick and some flying from fabric. A woman did a lovely, partly aerial, act with hoops. Two gay guys had a stylized fight in a cage for which I didn't care (I like the brothers who balance much more). There were a few other acts, each of the quality one expects of Cirque du Soleil.
………But the first performer, who impressed me more than any other, is a woman, perhaps African, dancing extremely fast and difficult moves with all the strength and power I've seen only from the likes of Iglevsky and Baryshnikov.

We had a quick dance in one of the casino's bars and went to Mandalay Bay, probably still the happen'est place in 'Vegas, to dance a bit more. There was an ersatz Hustle couple there, she wearing an extremely short skirt; he dressed quite simply. They had a few cute moves but their execution, particularly his, left much to be desired. She turned down my invitation to dance but they politely wished us a good evening as they left. Because the band was not to our liking, we stopped for some groceries and were at home at three.

Day Seven: Thursday, June 28

WELL, AFTER some more research, I learned of a Big Band playing this evening at 8:30 at the Italian American Social Club so we skipped the reception and Milonga. We had our last meal there and were blown away by the excellence of the 17- piece band and girl singer. There's a small, but good, dance floor that we had to ourselves the whole evening. One of the co-leaders told us “this isn't a dance band” but EVERY number was danceable, including the Samba. This weekly gig is now on our don't-miss in 'Vegas list. While there, we were told of the DanceGig site that appears to be a good resource for local dancing.

'Twas a very nice day; home early at 01:00.

Sunday, 1 July at 10:46
Day Eight: Friday, June 29
THE CLASSIC Jazz Band (née the Royal Dixie Jazz Band) plays Monday-Friday, 1-6:40 at the Gold Coast's Lounge. On Wednesdays and Fridays, there's additional dance space. As we knew it would be, the sextette was terrific, very danceable, and the atmosphere very informal, mostly regulars in attendance. The level of dancing was low but we enjoyed the friendliness in addition to the music.
………Jerry Tiffe and his quartette plays at Arizona Charlie's Naughty Ladies Saloon Fridays 4-7 and we went there, too. There were many more people but the level of dancing was equally low. When we went to Jerry Tiffe's long-standing Sunday gig at Texas Station in 2006, we were told he was taking the day off but, in fact, the gig had been cancelled:
“the people lost that gig because they were fighting over tables and stuff”. Those “people” probably have an average age of sixty!

We had an inexpensive, what it was worth, dinner at the Golden Gate Casino, “Since 1906”, on Fremont Street, saw one of the Experience showings (there are probably four) as well as a thrill- ing Bela Tabak's Riders of the Thunderdome, at one point four bikes flying around inside a steel globe. Also on the street was cowboy singer Kenton Weaver, and Left of Center, a kinda sorta softmiddleo'theroad Soul/Latin group to which we danced a bit on the much-improved (for danc- ing) street. Dunno how we missed Carl Ferris' Safe Sax.
………Visited the Four Queens, Binion's, and Stratosphere (same act, Front Page, in the Images Lounge doing the same material the same way as last year) on the way home.

Gaming conditions are worse than ever. We saw one Roulette wheel with a $10 minimum and $500 limit. They gotta be kiddin'! My favorite wheel had a single zero, 10¢ minimum and $1,000 limit. The player had a fair chance. Most table games have a $5 minimum bet but we saw a Craps game with a $3 minimum.

Day Nine: Saturday, June 30
ENT TO the Deseret second hand store in North Las Vegas to be shocked that it's closed. Too bad. It was reputed to be among the best of its kind in the USA. I still wear, and get compliments on, the pair of shoes for which I paid $4 a few years ago.
………When packing, I learned that the swimsuit I had aboard ship in May probably stowed away there. Went shopping for one at the Las Vegas Outlet Center, having failed after two frustrating hours at home, to find one. Spent another two fruitless hours. Although there might be four thousand stores, there's only one type of swimsuit available, a horribly ugly thing that would make the hippest, finest-legged among us look like a spindly-legged dork. She was quite impres- sed with the prices, though, and I did buy for $12.75 an item for which I normally pay $18.

Visited the Harley Davidson Café for a cup (“cup”? it was a good sized bowl!) of delicious corn chowder and a cuppa coffee. Lotsa nice stuff to see  there; obviously bikes but also pictures and a huge USA flag made of thousands of pounds of chain.

While looking for something else, I discovered that Huck Daniels has a Celebrity Jam Saturdays 9-1 at Texas Station's Armadillo Club (we ate at the buffet; a fair price for what one can have) that's been happening for only six weeks or so but is likely to become a 'Vegas fixture. We expected, and did, see people we know from his Monday night Blues Jam at the Stratosphere.
………The floor at the Armadillo Club is of good size and quality and is very fast. There were no other dancers there even though there were many, but not too, people on the floor so take a partner when you go. Most of the numbers were Swing, some NiteClub TwoStep, one ChaCha and one Rumba/Mambo. I joined the intermission ChaCha Slide but she didn't.
………Other than the shopping, and losing a bit gambling, it was a pleasurable day.

She wants me to tell you that after one number during which many women got up to dance, the singer chided “Where are the men?” A bit later, a few couples and four single women were on the floor so I got up to dance a few bars with the oldest of the women thanking her and moving to another for a few bars, etc., and making the round again starting with the first woman. Each gave me a broad smile and a pleasant “thank you”.

I have to tell you how delighted I am, again, with the great beauty here. The air is extremely clear and, in the afternoon, it seems one can see every rock on mountains that must be seventy miles distant. The closer ones are magnificent, rugged, beautifully colored-but-barren. I presume the smog-freeness is the result of the almost constant zephyrs coming offa the desert.

Tuesday, 3 July at 11:10
Day Ten: Sunday, July 1
ATOE'S been hurting for a couple of days but that's not unusual for social dancers. I don't remember how long ago it was that I had a bout with gout but it was alleviated by magical little green pills that are never far from me. This morning, seeing its swollen size and tinge of red, I realized that it was another, mild, attack. Sure glad those little green pills have retained their mojo. Gout is prevented by avoiding purines. Just try that!

Took a look at DanceGig, a local site with one useful page: Resources, that tells who its favorite musical groups are and where, but  not when, are the best places to dance. There are links, how- ever, where that information can be found. It appears that, from time to time, they go out in groups. They have a weekly Dance Ministry at a temple that involves teaching single-time Swing
and prayer to a god that inflicts hellish heat upon them, blesses them with low humidity, and is deaf to their pleas for undiluvial rain.
 ………The class was very well attended, well balanced, and broadly aged. The language used makes it clear that thou shalt maintain thy gender's traditional rôle regardless of whether you like it. The first part of it was followed by general dancing at tempi much too high for beginners, which 99% of them were, to handle. Then another class (during which I finally got something I've been trying to get for ages) followed by the imposition of prayer and a bit more general dancing on a large, hard, linoleum floor.
 ………There were many teen-agers there when we arrived but the promoter announced that someone had said or done something to offend them, was thrown out, and the kids subsequently left. He blamed that person but it was obvious to me why the teen-agers didn't stay: The play list (available at the site with tempi and times) that consisted of the likes of Little Richard, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc., and tunes such as Sea Cruise and Rockin' Robin. Great music to chase away today's teens and it sure did.
………I like that the teachers emphasize having fun while dancing absent pretense to produce good dancers. They proudly proclaim that their event is “tobacco and alcohol free” apparently ignorant of the fact that that's the norm almost everywhere dances happen. They also claim their event is “drug free” blissfully oblivious about their own addition.
………They apparently work without pay and don't charge those who attend. If you go, please try to find a way to donate a few bux to help cover their modest expenses.

Yesterday I said «She wants me to tell you . . . I got up to dance a few bars with the oldest of the women thanking her and moving to another for a few bars, etc. . . .» This evening I saw one of those women whose first words to me were “Thank you for dancing with us last night”. Sweet!

That woman suggested we return to the Gold Coast even though she didn't appear there, to dance to Elements, one of the groups mentioned at the DanceGig site.
………We sat with the guy who'd been thrown out by the godfreaks (he seemed to think he oughtn't've been), a guy from home and two girls. There was also a couple we see at home.

Day Eleven: Monday, July 2

E DIDN'T leave the house 'til well after 18:00 there being so much talk about the heat and its dangers. No, we're not afraid of it; just don't like the discomfort of it even though it's not as bad for me as it is for her.
………Finally found a swimsuit. Cost half as much as at home.
As long anticipated, and frequently recommended when talking about Las Vegas, we went to the Monday Night Blues Jam now officially called the Huck Daniel Revue at Images Lounge in the Stratosphere.
Not only did we encounter the same performers, but also many in the audience were the same as in past years. Huck has changed the show a bit but that's not a bad thing.
We danced, of course, and a nice looking blond from Salt Lake City apologetically asked me to dance. The number was too fast but we got through it, gasping at the end. She was quite good and that dance allowed me to go to a woman with whom I'd earlier been speaking to prove the point that anyone who can dance can dance with anyone who can dance by telling her that she'd seen our first dance, that we'd never before seen each other.
………In previous years, the gig was from 10-1 but it ended at two this evening.
And, as in previous years, the crowd was warm and friendly creating an extremely pleasant atmosphere. Our tablemate suggested we go to Orleans at five tomorrow and we prob- ably will.

Wednesday, Independence Day at 02:04
DAY Twelve: Tuesday, July 3
STARTED the day back at the Gold Coast for one set of the Classic Jazz Band. It's been justifiably called “the best kept secret in 'Vegas” 'cause there were not many people there, listeners nor dancers.
………Then to Orleans for the octette of Alysa Williams, a singer with three backups, guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums. Although we didn't care for her, and hated the tiny floor, we stayed for both sets.
………Had dinner there. Won a bit before dinner, lost a bit after. Hit the Bellagio fountain just right, stopping on the street where nobody tootsachew.

Fed the car on the way home.

Not much of a day.

A final observation about Las Vegas about ten hours before I hit The Road to Phoenix:
………Although I love to see our Moon, during the entire time here there've been only two other celestial bodies visible: Jupiter and our Sun. I presume this is the result of the extreme light pollution here. How sad it must be for a child of a poor family who's never gone far enough into the desert to see the Milky Way. Yet what a thrill it must be for that same child the first time the night sky we know is seen.

Friday, 6 July at 10:27
Day Thirteen: Wednesday, July 4
ADLY said “good-bye” to her and hit The Road at Noon for the absolutely magnificent 300-mile trip to Phoenix. I particularly like the rocks around Nothing, Highway 93's mileposts in the 140s.
………Crossing Boulder Dam was quicker than usual and there was very little traffic the whole way. Fearful of a speeding citation, the car rarely got above 80mph. It reported the outside tem- perature as 114°F almost all the way, 113° on arrival in Phoenix around 17:00 on a day that it had reached 117°F!

As expected, Lake Mead has very little water in it. How's 'Vegas to survive? Yet they keep on building, at least two casino/hotels in progress and many housing developments.

My roommate arrived about ten minutes before I. We went to dinner and had the good fortune to see the fireworks display although from a sound distance of about three seconds.

Danced from about 22:30-02:30 followed by a while in a quite hot, perhaps 105°F, whirlpool.

This Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired hotel is lovely but the distances from one place to another are great and walking in the sun is not pleasant.

Day Fourteen: Thursday, July 5
T'S H O T out there!
…–Washed some clothes, hung them in the car, went for a snack with an Argentina who lives in Palm Springs and my clothes were not just dry, but almost too hot to touch when we returned.
………Took a nap, something I do not do, before dancing from about 19:00-01:00, an early end for me but I wasn't giving very good dances. Back to the whirlpool and this note.

Saturday, 7 July at 11:12:23
Day Fifteen, Friday, July 6
WEATHER sizzling; competitions cool; dancing hot! So? What'd y'expect?

Sunday, 8 July at 04:09:17
Day Sixteen: Saturday, July 7
UIT DANCING around 03:30 last night, went to the pool then to bed awaking refreshed today BUT this evening I was nodding off 'til about 21:00 when I fully woke up.

They did a number on me tonight, making me dance more than I really wanted to and, hoping to avoid nodding off on the morrow, quit at 02:30 and went to the pool.
………Around Midnight, those plastic thingies that emit light were passed out. Almost everyone wore one or more. One partner had one on her head, her neck, around her waist with a loop, and on her lower and upper arms. When I spun her, it was like a light show! Kewl.

We're at the Arizona Biltmore, a 39 acre resort. Walks from the rooms to the ballroom can take longer than ten minutes. That was also true at the Camelback Inn (where the event's been held for many years) but, at the Camelback, the employees get around on little electric carts. They will stop what they're doing to take you from where you are to where you want to be. Here, there are a few such that must be called and they can't get as close to many destinations as they can at the Camelback.
………The Camelback's landscaping is mostly cactus, trees, and rocks. Here, it's mostly lawn. Many of us have been bitten by invisible creatures. There, I can recall no such complaint.
………Here there's a water slide that closes in the afternoon. Unable to resist, I went out in the afternoon sun to take a few  rides and am glad I did. It's only 92 feet long but it's very well designed.

This year, the music of John Festa, David Koppelman, Victor Loveira, Beth Bellamy, Mike Gallo, and Bob Brown has been very much to my taste, i.e., the best-ever for me. Others aren't as pleased, of course: de gustibus non disputandum est. The competition music has also been right on, unusual for this event.
………Frank's floor is smaller than five thousand feet but my usual test around 22:00 Saturday indicated that it's just about right.
In addition to the bacon, eggs, potatoes, pastries, juices, and fruit, the Camelback served us sausages at the “Midnight Breakfast”. Last night, there were also  egg burrititos.
………I have not heard one person express a preference for this venue over the Camelback. I doubt that there is one.

Monday, 9 July at 02:07
Day Seventeen: Sunday, July 8
HE SCHEDULE said dancing would end at 01:00 tonight. I said “I'll believe it when I see it” as people have been dancing, as usual, 'til around 06:00. But 'fore Midnight, it was announced that “there was a mis-understanding with the hotel. We thought we had the ballroom 'til Noon tomorrow. We have three DJs here willing to play as long as you want to dance or until five o'clock.”
………[When I have an early flight home, I dance 'til it's time t'go to the airport. I presume many in the ballroom now are doing just that.]
………We were then asked to clear one side of the room so that workers could start preparing the ballroom for the next event and picking up of the floor could begin. Although there were hundreds of us dancing, we didn't need the full floor.
………Although I wasn't giving bad dances, I wasn't giving very good ones, either, and I could hardly move so I quit around 12:40 and went to the whirlpool for a bit.

Last night I said “Here, there's one [electric cart].” Not true. There are several but they're driven by the bell hops so one has to go where they are to find one. Or call to wait for one.
………I have still not heard one person express a preference for this venue over the Camelback. I still doubt that there is one. [I did hear such a a preference post-event but just one.]

Off to 'Vegas in the morning and the Huck Daniels Revue in the evening.

Tuesday, 10 Jul 2007 10:45
Day Eighteen: Monday, July 9
NEGLECTED to ask the car how much farther it could go when pulling off the highway in Kingman. I did as the tank was filling and it was too late: 100 miles. I coulda made it here and would have achieved a 600+ mile tank. But paid only $2.86 a gallon, I think.
………The car reported 100°F all the way, 107°F on arrival in 'Vegas.
………Took a shower and ate at a quite good Asian buffet then to the Huck Daniels Revue at the Stratosphere that was as good as expected. For thirteen years, it happened elsewhere. It's been at the Stratosphere for six years and I think we discovered it four years ago; she thinks three and is probably correct. Huck's been playing in 'Vegas for 48(?) years and probably holds the record for the number of performances here.
………This might surprise you: I'm on a losing streak at the tables. Will probably make another attempt, on the way home, in Primm, tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 July at 01:25
Day Nineteen: Tuesday, July 10
DON' WANNA go via Bakersfield” whined I to me so pulled out a map to find another way. 'Twasn't hard: The Tioga Pass Road might end at the Eastern Sierra Highway but Highway 120 doesn't.
………We hit The Road at 16.8 to go via Pahrump as it appeared to be shorter from our starting point. The Blue Diamond Highway passes through part of Red Rock but they aren't where it does.
………Passing by the many fuel stations in Pahrump, that I should consider how much was in the tank simply didn't enter m'mind.
………The terrain 'tween Pahrump and Beatty (where we had dinner) is as fine and spectacular as any. I'd not seen it since my two visits to Scotty's Castle, probably in the '60s and '70s, and forgot how great it is. Might do it next year, too.
………We got to Tonopah at 22.5 and considered staying there but it was too early and decided to stay in Benton.
………We stopped at the lovely roadside rest a bit beyond highways 6/95's Coaldale Junction to look at the stars but there was too much light. A bit farther along, though, at Esmeralda County's Milepost 17 on Highway 6, it was so dark I lost the car 'though but a few feet from it. The Milky Way went from horizon to horizon. I saw nothing move up there but an airplane.
………The roads from Pahrump to Benton are two-lane with 70mph limits; it's a very quick way to go. At about 79mph (“UhOh!” I said. “There's a cop behind us” and I slowed to 70 but he flew by, siren blaring, lights flashing, to take care of a non-injury traffic problem many miles farther along), I was among the slowest on the roads. At Benton, however, where Highway 120 began for us, the curves start and the speed diminishes almost to half. It's a fun road for negative-G roller-coaster freaks as much airtime can be, and was, achieved.
………We'd never heard of Benton nor its Hot Springs nor considered that there'd be no place to stay there so we were compelled to continue to Lee Vining soon to realize that feeding the car at Eastern Sierra prices was imminent.

She said “I smell smoke!” UhOh. We saw no smoke, it was very dark, nor flames but as we approached the Eastern Sierra Highway we saw many flashing lights. At the intersection of the June Lakes Loop, the Southbound side of the highway was closed. The firefighters there told us they had a nearby blaze under control.

Last time in Lee Vining, we got the last room in town. This time someone else did. Four gallons of $4 gas added to the tank, we went 20 miles out of our way in search of lodging. It seems I can't take a road trip without sleeping in the car at least once every two weeks. Slept in the car at the Mono Lake Overlook from 2.2 to 6.3 but I never got comfortable nor slept well.

Day Twenty: Wednesday, July 11

E RETURNED the 20 miles to Lee Vining for breakfast in a restaurant packed with three crews of firefighters. They were provided food bags to go and paid by signing for The State (I think) to pay the bill.
………It was raining lightly as we climbed to the Tioga Pass but stopped as we crossed it.
………From 8.8 to 9.7, I had to get some more sleep near Tuolumne Meadows and a sandwich board declaring “Speed Kills Bears”, again from 12.5 to 13.0, and yet again, in Oakland, from 15.8 to 16.6. We didn't see any bears but did see a young deer.
………Added a gallon of gas in Oak Flat that got us to Tracy for the fill.
………We stopped in Oakdale for a while and had a snack in Livermore.

Somewhere around Livermore, I had moved to the Left lane to see a sign to San Francisco much too late to go that way. Then another appeared indicating we were going the correct way. I had no idea where we were until the Grand Lake Theater. I guess the other road went by Alameda.
………It was a magnificent day and we could clearly see Mount Tamalpais and Twin Peaks from very far away.
………There was no toll taker in spite of the green light. What to do? Pulled over and went inside to pay. “What if I hadn't come in?” “The CHP would have fined you.”
………Got home at 17.3 having driven 2,532.1 satisfying miles.

We all know the basic San Francisco-Las Vegas route is about 600 miles. Going via Yosemite and Death Valley adds about a hundred miles. The route home described above adds about 25 miles and might be about the same driving time as going via Bakersfield, the slow portions being limited to the Tioga Pass Road and  Northern Yosemite Highway.

A San Franciscan who never says “No!” to an invitation to dance!


Posted Monday, 9 July
[This report is appearing in three fora. In one of them, there have been comments. In the other two, no comments but several people have said they've read every word. Nice to learn. Using an unfamiliar machine, I've not taken the trouble to edit for the interests of a particular forum as I would have done had I been doing this at home.]

June 28
†riffsmom said You guys certainly have a lot of energy!!
I enjoyed reading your report.
I too have been upset reading about Manzanar We've passed by but have not stopped to see and I think we'll keep it that way.
Another comment.

June 28
riffsmom commented You guys certainly have a lot of energy!!
………Not really. Doesn't take much energy to manipulate a motor vehicle nor to be a passenger in one.
………I've been sleeping as few as six, usually 7-7.5 hours, she more. Last night, however, I slept nine hours and am a-rarin' t'go! There's a Tango reception and Milonga at the university this evening. Because we're not Tangueros, we might not stay but, a few weeks ago at Amnesia I did some- thing to an irresistible Tango that she Followed beautifully to the wide-eyed pleasure of the few who watched us.

I enjoyed reading your report.
………Thank you. More t'come.

I too have been upset reading about Manzanar We've passed by but have not stopped to see and I think we'll keep it that way.

………Perhaps wise. She just said “I'm sorry we went”. I've had similar reactions at the most unexpected of places.

Puter said I enoyed your report.

………Thank you. More cometh

girasol said I'm envious, the Giant Dipper, Bodie, and DV! Three of my favorite things.

Roll on!
………Yessir! Read on! Well, later.

June 29
BetterthanBings said I went to Manzanar for the first time last January when we made a trip to see some old family friends in Ridgecrest. I'm glad I went, and would take friends and family again. My father had driven by there when he used to work in the area in the 1950s.
………Then, the barracks were still up. Now, that same area that had teemed like a small city was nothing but a tumbleweeds. We went on the interpretive tour, anyway and got out of the car to look at the remains of gardens, including ponds and small waterfalls that had been built with Sierra rock and cement, an attempt to bring beauty to the rows and rows of barracks and incarceration. That the buildings were torn down made my father angry. He felt it was hiding what had been placed there, that people could not know what it had been like.
BACK to Manzanar

July 3
Tet14 in Uden, The Netherlands said I enjoyed reading you report . . . and it has not finished yet.
………Fred and Gene will be proud on you. I'm a lousy dancer, too stiff and and that extra 30 lbs also is not helpful either but I like watching those magicians on the dance floor. For Manzanar, we have been there many years ago and the good thing is imo that the USA is not running away from the past. Many so called free countries would never have talked about a black periode like that any more. And for tipping at Furnace Creek. I read many European forums and believe me, they all know about tipping in the USA.

. . . great tripreport . . .
………Gratifying hyperbole . . .Thank you.

I enjoyed reading you report . . . and it has not finished yet.
………Thank you. And true.

Fred and Gene will be proud on you.
………More likely “You call THAT dancing?!?”

the USA is not running away from the past. Many so called free countries would never have talked about a black periode like [Manzanar] any more.
………A country that was, to its shame, probably the last in its hemisphere to abolish slavery has much to hide.

And for tipping at Furnace Creek. I read many European forums and believe me, they all know about tipping in the USA.
………Where I read that the subject arises it's not about tipping itself but how much is proper for this or that . . .

July 6
Firewind said A pleasure to read.
………Thank you. For a REALLY good read, visit the Earthquakes/San Andreas Fault page to read Firewind's remarks.

Get thee(s) over to Red Rocks!
………Have done so 'though not this trip.

July 7
F'Roadrunner commented I'm getting tired just reading about all this activity! Maybe some of your energy will magically transfer itself to the rest of us.
………And answered * “How's 'Vegas to survive?” *
I don't think they've gotten as far as considering that question. Las Vegas is into growth, growth, growth. It's not a city, it's a metastisizing carcinoma. It looks like a cancer, acts like a cancer, impacts the rest of the state the way a cancer affects our bodies (e.g. they're snatching water from surrounding rural counties), & eventually will implode because, like any cancer, it can survive only as long as the host is healthy. BACK to July 4

July 11
Got home at 17.3. 2,523.1 miles. More later.
………F'roadrunner, a cuppla questions:
1. There's a terraced hill near the Beatty Airport due West of Highway 160's Milepost Nye 57. Looks like Peruvian farming or placer mining. What'sit?

2. What is that black hill, and plant, near Highway 95's Milepost Nye 37?
And, while we're at it, I'm still wondering about that huge well-lit plant near the Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58.

F'Roadrunner (Death Valley expert) said: Welcome back! From all your reports, it sounds like you had a terrific time and expended enough energy so you earned a good rest hanging out here!

Regarding your questions, going by your description, I think #1 may have something to do with the former Barrick gold mine site. It played out a few years ago, and like all mining companies, they just left it like it is. For maybe a decade, it was a big producer of gold by a cyaniding proc- ess, where basically the ore is dumped into a leach pond and treated with hydrocyanic acid to extract the metal.
………The are around Rhyolite was really impacted by this operation. The big hole in the ground on the south side of NV 374 across from the road to Rhyolite is the former leach pond. The buildings on the north side have been abandoned for years and look pretty ugly. I imagine the USGS had to revise some of the topographical maps after the mining company busted up the landscape.
………#2 - if this is what I think you're referring to, I think it looks like some kind of power plant. Not sure what it actually is. It seems to be lit up all the time.
………The wide spot on Hwy 58 near Tehachapi is called Monolith. The plant was once the Monolith cement plant, the biggest municipal cement production facility in history. It was built in the early 20th century by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to refine limestone from nearby mines into cement for the aqueduct. Later it supplied cement to build Boulder (now Hoover) Dam. Now, or at least the last time I actually went close enough to look, it belongs to the Calaveras Cement Co.

July 11
F'Roadrunner quoted * “Went to the Deseret second hand store in North Las Vegas to be shocked that it's closed. Too bad.” * and said Uh-oh...is this the one on Las Vegas Blvd?
………Yes, just a bit past the fort. There was nothing anywhere indicating a new location.

I just suggested it to someone on a Las Vegas thread. I'd better go back there and clarify for those folks.
………It may have been closed when the huge new opened facility on Craig Road near Allen. It was built new for Deseret Industries and related institutions. If you're going to Las Vegas again soon, you can check that out.

As you can see, I don't get to Las Vegas a lot :)

*What is 16.8 ? Is that a mile marker? Or time of day ? ?? 4pm and eight tenths ?
………Yes. On a long trip, I think logging things to the minute is overkill as there are so many variables on The Road.

what are your abbreviations . . . like 12.6 Is it a time?
………I rarely use abbreviations, especially in this world-wide medium where the clearest of abbreviations can carry dif'rent meanings. Yes, “12.6” is a time, in this instance 'tween Noon:36 and Noon:41. BACK to Day 4


Your comment will be considered for inclusion.

12 VIII 7 — 7.5

Quotes from report above «indicated thus»
«VISITED m'mother»
She died, at the age of 94.4, December 29, 2007.

«I learned of a Big Band playing … at the Italian American Social Club»
………We had dinner at the Lotus of Siam at Orleans Square on Sahara, not far from the club at which we learned to not eat. When we arrived, the room was dark with not a musician or music stand in sight. We were told that the gig ended “six months ago”. We were not told where we could find it but we learned that before the end of our visit.

«THE CLASSIC Jazz Band (née the Royal Dixie Jazz Band)
plays Monday-Friday, 1-6:40 at the Gold Coast's Lounge. It has been justifiably called “the best kept secret in 'Vegas” 'cause there were not many people there, listeners nor dancers. On Wednesdays and Fridays, there's additional dance space. As we knew it would be, the sextette was terrific, very danceable, and the atmosphere very informal, mostly regulars in attendance. The level of dancing was low but we enjoyed the friendliness in addition to the music.»
………The lounge has been closed; the band has moved to the showroom with its excellent floor. The Friday schedule is an hour later, i.e., 2-7:40. The band plays thirty minutes on, thirty minutes off.

But that isn't the “the best kept secret” in Las Vegas. We've learned what it really is:
………At the back of a home near Las Vegas Boulevard is a pre-fab building about 30x80'. The inside has been treated for acoustic quality. At least four, maybe five, Big Bands play there every week. The Thursday night band we missed is among them.
………The night we went we were the audience(!) referred to by a voice from the band as “Our classy audience”. We were also the first people ever to dance on their floor.
………The eighteen-piece band played Bob Florence charts. It was music as it should be heard: natural, unamplified. The only electronics were the keyboard and an electric guitar. I regret that I do not feel free to tell you where it is. But I can assure you we'll be there again.

«Huck Daniels has a Celebrity Jam Saturdays 9-1 at Texas Station's Armadillo Club»
………The contract was not renewed after a fourteen-month run.

«I have to tell you how delighted I am, again, with the great beauty here. The air is extremely clear and, in the afternoon, it seems one can see every rock on mountains that must be seventy miles distant. The closer ones are magnificent, rugged, beautifully colored-but-barren. I presume the smog-freeness is the result of the almost constant zephyrs coming offa the desert.»
………Because of the numerous and extensive fires in California, the atmosphere was filled with smoke the whole trip, all the way from San Francisco to Fremont Street. The smoke remained over 'Vegas 'til the winds shifted to send it elsewhere.
………We had more smoke on the way home, our Moon being, near its zenith, light yellow darkening to light orange as it neared the horizon.

«we went to the Monday Night Blues Jam now officially called the Huck Daniels Revue at Images Lounge in the Stratosphere.»
………We've been going for years and will continue to do so as long as we can. So should you!

«In previous years, the gig was from 10-1 but it ended at two this evening.»
………Ten 'til two is the normal schedule.

«I particularly like the rocks around Nothing, Highway 93's mileposts in the 140s.»
………Didn't stop at Nothing on the way down and noticed, on the way back, that the buildings are dilapidating. I guess it's finally been abandoned. The mileposts have been replaced by mile markers.

«I have not heard one person express a preference for this venue [the Arizona Biltmore] over the Camelback [Inn]. I doubt that there is one.»
………Well, there are a few, but not many.

«I DON' WANNA go via Bakersfield” whined I to me so pulled out a map to find another way.»
………Came home via Bakersfield, taking 14.7 hours to travel the 588 miles. Spent 1.6 hours losing at Craps in Primm, 2.9 hours dining and dancing at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace, and another hour at various stops for actual driving time of 9.2 hours at an average driving speed 63.9mph.


Start Trip



Mother's, Redwood City
Giant Dipper, Santa Cruz
Monterey's Fish House




James Lick Freeway (101)
Bayshore Freeway (101)
Stevens Creek Freeway (85)
Santa Cruz Highway (17)

Monterey Bay Blues Festival – June 22, 23, 24 Cabrillo Highway (1)


Misión San Juan Bautista
Casa de Fruita
Lee Vining




Cabrillo Highway
Highway 156
El Camino Real North
Pacheco Pass (152)
Highway 59
Central Yosemite Highway (140)
Tioga Pass Road (140)

Start Trip


Lee Vining
Crestview Rest
Division Creek Rest
Furnace Creek Ranch
Las Vegas



Eastern Sierra Highway (395)
Bodie Road (270)
Cottonwood Canyon Road (167)
Eastern Sierra Highway
Highway 136
Death Valley Scenic Byway (190)
State Line Road
Blue Diamond Highway (160)

Las Vegas – 27-31 June and 1-3 July South Boulder Highway (95)




Arizona Biltmore




Nevada Highway (93)
Wickenburg Way (60)
Carefree Highway (74)

Greater Phoenix Swing Dance Club's Fourth of July Convention XXVI - July 5-8
Highways 17 and 101



Arizona Biltmore




Highways 101 and 17
Carefree Highway
Wickenburg Way

Start Trip



Coaldale(?) Rest
Coaldale Junction
Lee Vining
Mono Lake Overview




Nevada Highway
South Boulder Highway
Blue Diamond Highway
Highway 160
Highway 95
Highways 95, 6
Highway 120



Mono Lake Overview
Lee Vining
Yosemite, sleep
Big Oak Flat
Fruit stand, sleep
Oakland, sleep
Toll Plaza




Eastern Sierra Highway
Eastern Sierra Highway
Tioga Pass Road
Northern Yosemite Highway (120)
Northern Yosemite Highway
Northern Yosemite Highway
Highway 205
Macarthur Freeway (580)
Macarthur Freeway
San Francisco Bay Bridge

20 Days