Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday Drive

All day Sunday my New friend Jimmy drove me aroudn the desert. A couple miles behind the museum, down near the border, there is a historic site called Yuha Wells. This was one of the few sources of fresh water in the Yuha desert and was one of the stops that de Anza documented as the first European to enter California.

The first part of this ride was really boring. I told my new friend Jimmy that I didn't know why you would bother driving out here.

Then we came into the gorge. This is looking back toward Signal Mountain.

We were on a desert road marked "300." It was crazy. As soon as I get a car I am going to come back here a write a whole blog about how fast I can drive it! Maybe 300?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Last Big Desert

I have been here a full three weeks. Today begins the fourth weekend. Twenty three straight days of work. I still don't have a car, a place to live, or the internet. I do know how many days I can work in a row before I get kind of bummed out about working. It is twenty three!

Today my new friend Jimmy took me off roading in the desert for the first time. We drove way out, up, and into the mountains. I started to think that after three weeks of drinking his coffee, sleeping in his camper, eating his dinner, and watching his TV...maybe twenty three days was enough for him as well. When he had me get out to look at a spring coming out of the rocks I made sure that I stayed closer to the truck than he was.

I spent the rest of the day in El Centro taking care of banking and getting a few groceries, and then doing internet business for four hours at Starbucks. All the way into town I watched the Blue Angels practicing over the desert.

I always try to post pictures with blogs, but I have been posting from my phone. But today the post is from Starbucks.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Not Always My Fault

It is interesting what becomes normal. I have been in California 18 days and today was the third earthquake. In the last week we have had winds exceeding 40 miles per hour. On Grand Turk I would be blogging about tropical storms. But here my new friend Jimmy just says we have light winds. Well, the earthquakes are cool. But I think I have to write a disaster management plan sooner than later.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Deneen asked me to send her some pictures of where I have been living so I thought I would just put them here. I was thinking this week that between between the constant vacations in dad's RVs, being on the road in the bus with the Hitches, and the years of Labor Day Missions Conferences, I have spent a lot of time sleeping in a camper. And this is not including the four months of "camping" in the house on Grand Turk after the hurricane. So, it is not a big deal. I am thankful that my new friend Jimmy has turned out to be a pretty good guy and a gracious host.

I am not sure how long before I wear out my welcome. And my new friend Jimmy has already had to empty the holding tank once. I do know from living at the CCC that no one likes dealing with someone else's crap.

Today is Sunday. The day that I had set aside to begin cleaning out the museum trailers. We will see how this goes. I was hoping to live there immediately, but upon closer inspection they are going to need a lot of work.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting Ready for the Optimist Club

The end of my first full week is looking up. I had an encouraging meeting with trustees today about architectural plans I have worked on this week. I was positive that they would like them, and in fact everyone is hopeful about the future.

This week also started the rounds of community organizations that I anticipate visiting. Tonight will be my second Optimist Club meeting. I am sure that tonight's meeting will be great. There is an international themed dinner. It will be Greek to me, but I feel very lucky that I get to try the different pots. It would be unpropitious to drink too much, so I think I will just walk around with my glass half full.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Well, Feels Just Like....

I drove into El Centro this morning to take care of some business. Into the big city. Got coffee. Went to the Do It Center. Went to the big grocery store.

I thought there was a US Bank here, but I must have seen that in San Diego. Now I have some issues to resolve.

I bought some fruit, a bunch of juice, beans, and tortillas. It is interesting to me the difference in food ways from place to place. There were almost no cans of beans at Walmart, but there was an entire isle of dried beans. They must not use canned beans along the border. Last night I ate dinner with my new friend Jimmy. He had frozen tamales that he buys from someone in Mexico. They were the best tamales I have ever eaten.

Avocados "from Mexico" were .48 cents each. This is as cheap as I have ever seen an avocado. Mangoes were the cheapest thing on Grand Turk. We ate them all the time. I think in Ohio you can get a pickup load of corn for a nickel.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Earthquake 4.0

Well that was different. Today during the first half of the Superbowl we had a small, 4.0 earthquake. You could hear it coming. A low rumble moving closer like a freight train. Then the house shook for 30 seconds. Then the Packers scored. It was very cool. The earthquake that is.

Friday, February 4, 2011

First 24 Hours

Is this really just the first 24 hours?
Crazy. Its a good thing I don't need to eat, sleep, or shower.

I did find someplace to stay. I am going to crash for a few days in a camper. I don't have a blanket. I don't have internet.

What I do have is a 10,000 square foot, big, fat, empty museum. Nothing but possibilities. Started to plan laboratories and woodshop today. This week I need to come up with estimates for our first two projects. Then we start raising money. I have a couple big 60 day goals.

I like Ocotillo. It is a lot like Grand Turk in that everyone is a character. It is an interesting, small desert town. Tonight I am going in to El Centro to have dinner with some people. And if I can find time, I need to buy some tennis shoes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Today, I Woke Up in the Desert

Well, if life were a contest to see how remote I could live I might be winning. I don't know where I would have to go from here, though. Australia maybe? I would really like to try Alaska. But I'll alaskabout that later.

Last night I caught the flight out of Columbus to San Diego. I was suppose to leave the day before, but through a ticketing hiccup, I did not get on the flight and had to rebook for the next day. This as it turned out was fortuitous. US Airways flight 148 CMH to SAN, was the only evening flight that had not been canceled due to the ice storm that hit Columbus. On the 11:00PM news, however, there was a story about this flight. After waiting two hours on the runway, the plane could not be de-iced and the pilot decided it was unsafe to takeoff. I was glad that I did not get on.

The flight on Wednesday evening took off without an incident. I had planned a leisurely trip out so that I could spend the night at the Crown Plaza and see a couple museums in San Diego. When I did not fly out on Tuesday, I had to cancel both my plans and my reservations.

The plane got into San Diego late, about 9:45pm. When I looked at my rental car reservation, it had been made for 10:00am instead of 10:00pm. I called them about ten minutes before they closed. Though they had me listed in the computer as two consecutive no-shows, they stayed open until I got there and gave me a car for the week. I was very happy. The one thing I hate now about traveling is this period before I get a car and place to stay. It is by far the most stressful.

At about 11:00 I started the two-hour drive into the desert. Making the drive between Octotillo and San Diego is locally know as “going over the hill.” This is a drive going from sea level to 4055 feet to sea level. There is nothing except mountain and two casinos along the entire drive. About half way down the hill I passed four highway patrol cars, three dozen flares, and a white SUV that had flipped several times on the highway. Imperial County ranks 52nd out of 58 counties for fatal vehicle accidents.

A little after12:30am I arrived in Octotillo. This was about 3:30am to me. When my hotel plans got canceled I had decided that I would just stay in the trailers at the museum, or in a worst case scenario I would just stay in the car. Well, the trailers were locked.

Ok, I guess I had not thought through the actual worst case scenario. Last night was the coldest February 2nd on record in the Imperial Valley. In 1929 it had dipped to 29 degrees. Last night it was 26 degrees. I got out my luggage, put on three pairs of pants, the only sweatshirt I brought, and both sport coats. Every hour and a half I woke up freezing and ran the car until it warmed up. Then I fell asleep for another hour and a half.

You can see about 100 miles in all directions from the museum. At about 2:00am there were flashing lights and two cars pulled over on the freeway west. At about 4:00am there were flashing lights out in the desert to the south. At about 6:00am, when the sun the came up, I found coffee at a gas station down the road. Outside the gas station the Border Patrol was arresting four illegals who had evidently come across the border in the night. I spent the next two hours walking around museum property and watching the sun rise.

Everything's good. I found coffee.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I have never really liked cars. I mean not like guys who "like" cars. I don't read about them. I don't now what new engines are being put in what new cars.

But this week I have found out something about myself. I love Jeeps.

Deneen and I had a Suzuki Samurai for eleven years. She bought it new in 1988 in Chicago. At our 20th high school reunion a friend came in a restored Samurai. I have been looking for one ever since. A new Samurai in 1988 cost $5,900.00. I just looked at a 1988 Suzuki Samurai for sale in Pasadena, California. It is $5,800.

We had to get a new car this week. After searching for what seemed like forever, we bought a new Jeep Wrangler.
I had a 1989 Jeep Wrangler on Provo that I drove for a little more than a year. This Jeep may have been the worst car on the island. The gas gauge did not work so you never knew how much gas you had, and if you drove more than 20 minutes at a time the brakes would overheat and gradually lock up until you had to stop. But I loved driving it.

In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan makes a statement that vitamins may not actually do anything for your health, but people who take vitamins are much healthier than people who don't. So, he says, be the "kind of person who takes vitamins."

Most people who drive a Jeep don't really need a Jeep. I think that we will actually need Jeeps in the Imperial Valley, but none the less, I have always wanted to be the "kind of person" who drives a Jeep.