Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Roy's on Route 66

Needles, California - January 14, 2007

We spend all day cruising north and east on back roads though the Mojave desert. The roads we choose have no gas stations or services.

At 29 Palms Mrs. Phred says turn right. I think straight ahead is the right decision. After five miles, we top a hill and the road suddenly ends and turns right. I brake hard and skid the RV and Toyota to a stop 20 feet into the desert. We both remember the first National Lampoon "Vacation" movie with Clark Griswald and family. We back out and turn right twice find Mrs Phred's road.

We finally hit Amboy. It's in the middle of a huge dry salt lake basin. Amboy is on the old Route 66. It became a ghost town when Interstate 40 was built 40 miles to the north.

There is a 6,000 year old volcano just outside town. The "Amboy Crater" is a National Landmark. A ranger runs a visitor center. Lonely duty.

Perhaps more interesting is the closed Roy's Motel, gas station and cafe. It has a 1950s look and is now owned by a preservationist. He also owns the first MacDonalds opened in San Diego, which he runs as a museum. You could have blown though here in 1957 in a a black Chrysler with tail fins and a big hemi V-8. Nostalgia.

We drive into Needles on the border for the night. London bridge is nearby. We buy green chili marmalade and a bottle of merlot at the camp store.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Parguera, Puerto Rico

Bar Harbor, Maine

Sitting here in Bar Harbor, I start to remember the diving I've done since hitting 50. . Since 1995, I've been spending a couple of weekends each year in La Parguera, Puerto Rico, diving the wall with Captain Angel.

I went to San Juan, Mayaguez, Caguas, Aricebo and Ponce on business, helping one of our subsidiaries though their audit in September and installing and upgrading computers, new software, local area networks, telephone equipment and wide area networks.

There were lots of problems with computers broken in shipment, power failures and burned out electronics. Eventually I had all six of the Puerto Rico offices interconnected to each other, Tampa and the National Office in Atlanta by a wide area network. When we started they didn't have a single computer.

The picture above is Captain Angel. One of the fringe benefits of my side duties on the island was always a diving weekend in Parguera. I took Mrs Phred there a couple of times. My last time I took my son. Once I took a strange consultant named "Bob" from Chicago when we changed accounting systems. When I went online to book a dive trip today, I found that Angel closed down last January. It is a shame. He is a nice young man with a lovely wife and two young children. Sometimes he would get a call on the boat and smile and say that the baby just had a bowel movement. He had a nice life running dive trips out to the wall. I had hoped that he would succeed.

The dives were among the best I've done. They started at about 60 feet and went down a coral covered wall with lots of fish and eels.

There is a last time for everything. Due to the tenuous nature of existence, we can never be sure when it's happening. I'm going to miss the Parguera Divers polo shirts and the rainbows over the phosphorescent mangrove bay.

I'll really miss the cool Parguera Divers polo shirts with the little neon fish logo.

My son enjoyed the last trip. He's a poet/lawyer/guitar player with (so far) six very handsome and well-behaved children. I'm not biased about that in any way about that.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Golden Triangle

The strange thing about these sculpted hands and skulls reaching up out of a pit where bad folk go, is that someone has painted a single fingernail red.
Where do bad folks go when they die?  
They don't go to heaven where the angels fly  
They go to a lake of fire and fry  
Won't see 'em again till the 4th of July

There's an Opium Museum up on the the Thai/Laos/Burma border. It's mostly about the British squaring up their balance of trade with opium balls. It's a fine museum, but leave three or four hours to visit and take it all in. There are movies about the CIA and all kinds of Golden Triangle history things that you might find interesting.

The visit starts with a walk up a dimly lit long tunnel with eerie music and tortured human images carved into the tunnel walls.

There is no order to the pictures here today. Just another weird day in the Golden Triangle. Cooking eggs in boiling hot springs for breakfast, talking to bald-headed monks, seeing surrealistic strange structures, eating the local food....

The inside of this temple had a lot of white strings in it which created an interesting visual view of the Buddha. Visual view is not as redundant as it sounds. Consider spiritual view, overview or other views...

This old, bald  monk is building a new place for the young monks to sleep and cook. It's all open air. The weather does not require heaters for the most part.

This is an adjunct structure going up near an old temple along a remote river off the beaten path. . It's sort of a boat-like temple thingy.

Our driver, Ken on the temple boat..

Carol and Bennett draw a stick in the temple which gives number that leads to a written fortune. Their fortune  says that the new baby is not expected anytime soon.

Ken tells me that the people who use the temple make these things and people vote for the most beautiful by placing money in them. The money is used for maintenance and additions...

The old temple next to the new boat structure on the river.

We are the only customers in this open air restaurant. The food is good and very spicy. Fortunately both Bennett and Ken are fluent in Thai.

Down the road, This ultra modern temple has some odd images, including all the hands coming out of the pit. Maybe they are drawing on Christian images. Maybe we were once visited by really ugly aliens? Interesting use of Spanish Moss?

The temples vary greatly in design. This one is fairly new. It was built by a really wealthy businessman. As far as Bennett knows, it was built to make merit. He doesn't accept large gifts, support monks or do good works. We think we see him sitting by the temple entrance...

The Red Rose Hotel in Chaing Rai is built around a Disneyland motif. It is intended for only short-term occupancy (prostitution) We drive all around at night to look for it because Ken and Bennett think we will find it interesting. We went into one very humid room that had some kind of bugs that bit Mrs. Phred. I wonder what Walt Disney would think?

This is the little mermaid room.

I think this room is the little engine that could.

Behind Carol is Burma. Behind Bennett is Laos. They are standing in Thailand. The three countries are divided by the Mekong and the smaller river that joins it from between them to the left.