We arrived in Palm Desert Tuesday afternoon, Really glad to be here, but both of us pretty grumpy bears. One look at the new, empty vacation home immediately overwhelmed both of us. It is one thing arriving to a clean, furnished rental home with internet, TV, cutlery and dishes; it is quite a different feeling arriving to an empty shell. Decorating was a fun thought several months ago, but not today.
It is day three in Palm Desert now and we have started to settle in. Cutlery and a TV has been purchased. Dishes may come in the next couple of days. We now have towels. After tennis today we can go looking for a dresser.
Black Friday was a bit of fun. We started at BestBuy on Thursday evening (Sales start at 6PM and run all night). Got in and out with the TV of my choice in 20 minutes, and not once did I feel that I might be trampled. Saved about 25% (you never really know). Met a couple in the payment line from London, Ontario who now live here full time. The next store was Kohl's where there was a deal on 82 pieces of Oneida cutlery for $47. I kept handing it to Carol. She kept setting it down and picking up a set of 65 pieces for $159. I would take it out of her hands and replace it with the $47 set. She would just set that one back down. I was saved by the length of the checkout line. It was taking forever, and eventually Carol abandoned her purchase. We have cutlery though; found the same stuff at another store, 65 pieces for $99. Gotta love Black Friday.
Today Carol is having a tennis lesson and playing in the drop-in round robin. I have played three days in a row and I am taking the day off. I have been playing even though I have been suffering from flu-like symptoms (and I do mean all of the symptoms). I think that I am on the mend, but at one point it felt like 2009 in Italy all over again.
Time Warner will come by today to hook up the internet at the shack. I am using the new connection at the clubhouse at this time. Once we are set up at home, I can get back on the air and post some photos.
Carol and I have finished sitting around in hotel rooms waiting for the weather to clear. Monday morning we tentatively left our hotel in Pecos and started to drive. On this second attempt to leave Pecos, the temperature hovered just over freezing for the first 2 hours and then climbed to 4 degrees as we descended into the valley that holds the Rio Grande just east of El Paso. It rose from 4 degrees to 16 steadily between El Paso and Tucson and held as we approached Phoenix. Our hotel is in Chandler AZ. Chandler is a smaller version of Silicon Valley. The hotel is in the middle of a science and technology complex, and it has given my heart a bit of a beat to be around technology companies again. Paypal is here, and of course eBay, but also Intel (employing 12,000 people). I find myself looking at the young people at the hotel, and asking myself what is he/she working on? As a member of the geek community, will I know their name one day? Is that Mitch Kapor?
We are 4 hours from 99 Verde Way, and we pick up and hour as we cross the California border. I received an email while driving yesterday asking me to play tennis Wednesday morning. "Of course", but I need to arrive early enough to purchase a new pair of tennis shoes.
I did not post yesterday because nothing had changed. We continue to look at grey skies, attempt to drive in rain and sleet, and try to avoid winter storm Boreas. For example, this morning we got up in Pecos, Texas (another town gutted by Walmart), waited until 10AM to let the sleet warm to rain, and started west on Interstate 10. Thirty minutes down the road we came to a stop, and waited 2 hours, moving a couple hundred feet in total. Finally a truck driver told me that there was ice on the road ahead and cars were not able to navigate it.
We decided to turn around (we were sitting at a freeway entrance), and head back to the hotel in Pecos. I was going to say that I have been in this town 3 times, but I can now claim that I have been here 4 times.
Since we are not driving, I can type a bit about dinner last night at Alfredo's Mexican Restaurant.
One of the TripAdvisor reviews put it this way:
"I'm so sorry to say this but this was not a good restaurant. Service was very bad. We were not greeted, not even acknowledged when we arrived. When a table was ready the man just nodded at us from across the restaurant, didn't say a word! The food was very bad. It's cramped and uncomfortable to sit in. The table was still wet from being wiped. I just cannot stress enough that this was not a good experience. Please, do not go here. The food is overpriced too."
Now that is a review that I need to check out. Carol and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Alfredo's. Here is my review on TripAdvisor:
"The desk clerk recommended Alfredo's as we checked into our hotel. We have spent 3 days driving in rain and sleet, and we were looking for something warm and comforting to help us settle in for the evening. Alfredo's did the job. Good service, great food, cold beer, and "authentic" atmosphere. I had a small ribeye steak that was delicious with beans, rice, guacamole, and flour tortillas. Lady had a vegetarian dish that she enjoyed too. The only drawback was the server thinking that white zinfandel was white wine, and letting me choose Bud Light before she got to Dos Equis. I agree, not a real problem."
We were fortunate to arrive in Pecos, along with a visiting Bishop. The locals were lining the main street, carrying placards welcoming the Bishop. When the parade went by, it was led by 4 lit police vehicles. Folk were standing in the sleet and rain watching. Carol and I watched the procession from the window at Alfredo's. The wait staff all stopped and hung out the door looking. I have asked about the Bishop at the desk; nobody has a clue who he is or what was happening.
That is all for now. When I get up tomorrow morning it will feel like groundhog day. Pecos, Texas three days in a row. That's it - I am going for beer. OK, just one last review (from some New York lady named Andrea) of Alfredo's:
"Yeeeeeehaw! I'm in the town where The First Rodeo took place! Good ole Pecos, Texas. I had no choice but to stay the night in this town, all the other hotels were completely booked for some reason. Rodeo conference? Oil riggers conference?
The entire town was dudes. I saw three females and 97 dudes the whole time I was there. And I was only there for a total of about 10 hours. It's like, you walk in and all the heads turn because they can tell a female is coming.
So Mexican food. It was pretty gosh darn good. Not amazing, but solid. I had the beef taquitoes. They came with a small undressed green salad, rice, beans topped with cheese and guacamole. It also came with a bag of chips and salsa. This was all about $9. I'm glad I took my food back to the hotel. Yeeeeeehaw!"
Getta life, Fred
- a record was going to be set. Either we were going to extend the record distance travelled with both bicycles intact, or we were going to lose both bicycles for a record 3rd time. We are in Amarillo TX. We have both bikes, so the distance record is extended, but damned if both did not jump from their cradles during the trip. If it had not been for the modifications to the carrier, both would be gone - stretched somewhere along Interstate 40.
A good friend of mine replied to yesterday's post thinking that I should not be "smug". Bad things happen in clusters, and a cluster is frequently more than three.
It had been -3 degrees most of the day, and it rained, spit, sleeted, for 537 miles. The windshield wipers kept getting iced up. We had to stop many times, sometimes while emergency crews cleared tractor-trailers that had lost control on the bridges. Yes, the bridges do ice before the road. We were able to step out and whack the blades against the windshield to clear the ice. It never occurred to me that the bicycles would get heavy, and ugly, and try to jump the carrier.
We are in a Drury Inn. They give you a free beer and a hot dog when you arrive. All is good. One more night on the road and we will be in Palm Desert.
As some of you know I have had some trouble carrying bicycles to California. Last year we lost two bicycles from a hitch-mounted carrier in Burlington ON, the first night of the drive to Palm Desert. The Thule bike rack ($800 installed) straps broke let go of the bikes on the QEW at high speed. They were both subsequently run over by a truck, completely destroying them.
Two years before, we had two wonderful bikes in roof mount carriers, and sheared them from the top of the car going into the covered entrance at a hotel in Effingham IL. The roof racks were busted and stripped from the car. One of the bicycles ended up entering the back seat of the car through a side window, and I was totally humiliated. I reassembled the car with duct tape and we continued on.
Yesterday we set a new Appleton distance record for bicycle carrying. We are in Springfield Mo. We have beaten last years distance of 164km by 1526km, and the previous record of 1150km by 540km. We are at kilometre 1690, and we still have the bicycles. We are smug. It is the same bike rack that let go last year but with a couple of non-Thule improvements.
Tonight they will be in Amarillo TX (home of the 72oz steak). Speaking of the 72oz steak, you can get one at the Big Texan, and if you can eat it in one sitting, it is free. How good is that!
Just a couple lonely guys on the town. Ross and I went to Duntroon (yes, Duntroon) to see the Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show. Good fun. Fred is an international star who was born in southern Ontario, probably near Port Dover. I thought that you might enjoy seeing a YouTube video of Fred singing White Rose. That is Willie P Bennett on the mandolin and harmonica. Willie was a Toronto born singer, song writer who released his first single in 1969 and won a Juno Award for best roots album in 1998. Willie died in Peterborough in 2008.
Added 27 photos of Gray's Greater Canadian Shows from 1937 to the FairGround.