Thursday, December 27, 2007
The incident in San Francisco was tragic and shocking, though also along the lines of bad things that occur as a price for living. Horrific, yes. Earth shattering, no. I was in San Francisco that same day, and at one point was trying to figure out how to spend half the day while waiting to go to a dinner. I never thought about the zoo, but my relative proximity to that bizarre event still got my attention. As we all know, we never know what's next.
All of that could be said of Bhutto's murder as well.
Her death is emblematic though of a Muslim world gone wild. Muslims aren't the only ones who assassinate their leaders, but this assassination is anything but a surprise. According to the reports on her life today she was an imperfect soul, and yet all agree an extraordinary one too. It's the frenzy of hatred and violence that is so dominant in the Muslim world that is disturbing.
Bhutto stood for democracy and stability in a nation that has neither. Her brave choice to return from the safety of exile to bring change to her country is the act of a great woman. Her death is a tragedy for all humans.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
I arrived here two days ago. Here is Mission Peak Ranch--Jason Hart's piece of the American Dream. Jason is an Aussie. He's got 125 acres in the San Francisco Bay area. It's on the edge of the metro area, but very close to the metropolis too.
We're surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of open space to our west. To the east a few miles is urban sprawl and the SF Bay itself. Right here though there is a lot of land--the kind of set up I love the most.
I cleaned up the Airstream this morning and had a few visitors today--fellow guests here at Jason's ranch. A few more people are coming tomorrow. I also moved the trailer to a flatter spot. That, and a few other minor things amounted to my productive efforts today. I was invited to dinner, and turned down the invitation because I didn't want to drive anywhere.
Jake and I hiked to the summit of Mission Peak, just over 2,500 feet above sea level and about 500 feet above the ranch. He had a great day--he was free to roam most of the day and loved it. We're literally at the end of the road up here, so no road worries with the pup.
Tonight I watched Road Warrior starring Mel Gibson. The film is a late 20th century classic and a cult film. It's set in a post-apocalyptic period with hardened characters who've been through hell on earth. In the movie they are battling it out for gasoline--a dwindling but still important resource. It was a low budget independent film that propelled Gibson to stardom. It was good, though I didn't love it. It was a movie I am glad I saw--it influenced a lot of other films.
Last night the caretaker at the ranch was jamming with his Bluegrass band. That's more up my alley.
Nice to have such an easy day. Not many this year!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Planning on a two day drive from Salt Lake City--with a loaded truck and a loaded Airstream. Today I borrowed a tent I'll need in January. It's 10 feet by 20. I thought it would be big, but didn't take into consideration the 360 pounds of cement that come with it! There are eight 45 pound pieces of cement that anchor the tent to the ground. I've picked up other inventory here in Salt Lake as well. When I load up tomorrow I'll be packing in more than ever before.
Last weekend we held The Holiday Show at Sugarhood. The show went well and I reconnected with many old friends. Sugarhood has been home since December 1. It is our nickname for the area just west of Sugarhouse--a part of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Special thanks to Pippa and Kirk, and everyone who was able to come by, as well as those who let me stop by to see them.
California here we come.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Kim's was the first stop. I met her shortly after moving to Utah in late 1994. We became fast friends and were part of small group that did everything together for a couple of years. At the time we met she was single and approaching her mid-20s. For her crowd that was edging in to getting old for marriage and she was interested in marrying. I'll never forget when she met her man. They were engaged instantly (or so it seemed). Today she has four children and is happily married. They have a beautiful house at the base of the towering Wasatch Mountains. We had a short visit. On the one hand it was like no time had passed at all. On the other, it was a short visit in our lives that are going so stinking fast!
Next was David B. I worked with him at Novell and reconnected with him during the Olympics. He was a volunteer in our division. He drove athletes to and from the major venues. He's a nice guy who's always smiling and great to be around. We had lunch and I showed him some of my jewelry. (Kim saw it too). He bought a few things for Christmas presents--including one of my creations. Again, a short, but sweet visit.
Then I saw Mary and Dale. They're married and acted as my realtors on the purchase and sale of my two Utah County homes. They're both gems--just phenomenal people. Mary turned 80 this month. Eighty! She doesn't look a day over 65. She's healthy and strong and as sharp as ever. For Christmas Dale bought her some of my favorite pieces--some fossilized dinosaur bone jewelry I had made by Amy of Lebe Loola. I told them, and this is true, that my favorite pieces go to my favorite people. They have something like 30 fruit trees on their property and gave me some amazing apples as I was leaving.
Kellie Forbes was next. I met her at her house. She took three of us to a Christmas production called "The Forgotten Carols." I'd heard the music when we were driving back from Portland the day before Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful and clever production focusing on minor characters in the Christmas story. It was great, and especially because I was there with such a good friend, her nine year old daughter, and another friend--Kylie (a young Mormon with two kids).
All of my Mormon friends fit at least some of the stereotypes. They have big families. Family is important. And they eat green jello with marshmellows (kidding!).
I returned to Sugarhood--home for the week--and got to hang out with Pippa before calling it a night. Neither Pippa nor I are Mormon, but my Mormon friends are wonderful. Who cares what someone's religion is? Great people are great people.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
A close-up shot of a high quality Campo del Cielo meteorite. This specimen weighs 6.21 kg or 13 pounds, 11 ounces. Sold.
While this piece is sold, I have many smaller pieces that are similar and more affordable. Don't miss your chance to own a piece of outer space.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Wherever I've gone this year, if my Airstream is with me I stay in it. It's my home. Everything I need is there and it's great to have your own space. Because it is so cold I've had to fully engage my vintage 1973 furnace. It runs on propane and does a good job of keeping the trailer warm. At least when it works.
A few nights ago at about midnight the heat really started to bother me. Twenty-two degrees outside and over 80 in the Airstream. We were getting roasted. Jake was on the floor and I was miserably hot. Something was wrong. I'd been messing with increasing frequency with the thermostat--even turning it off. To no avail. The furnace just kept running. It was late. I was tired. I didn't know what to do.
I cut the gas to the furnace and did the unthinkable . . . I went inside my sister's house and slept in her guest bedroom.
The next day after posting on the Airstream Forum and getting some tips (www.airforums.com) I took the cover off the thermostat and poked around. I don't know that I actually did anything but the device started to control the furnace again and has been acting fine ever since.
That night I woke up and I was freezing. I am fairly sure that I just ran out of propane in the tank I was using. I went outside, switched tanks (I am sure this should or could happen automatically, but . . . ). I came back in, shivering, and re-lit the pilot light and fired up the old beast again. I curled up in bed with Jake at my feet and reached over to see if hot air was coming out now. It was. I fell back to sleep.
I did a lot of work today in the trailer and used the furnace all day. At some point in the early evening, with the winds howling and the Airstream plenty warm, I decided to cry uncle. For the next few nights I am saving propane and sleeping in the guest bedroom inside. Everything is working in the Airstream, but I am burning through propane fast and there is a free warm room available.
I will still work out of the trailer as needed during the day.
What kind of full-timer am I?
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I love Portland. It's a sophisticated small city that is surprisingly cosmopolitan. It's also very wet, and very green--a nice contrast to the vast mountain west and southwest that I know much better.
These past two days I spent more time with local friends, went to a vineyard, and enjoyed the area. Heading home to Idaho tomorrow. Home is where my Airstream and puppy are--this has been an Airstreamless leg of my travels. Home for the moment is also my sister Elise's farm.
Kellie and I are still on speaking terms after nearly two weeks together. That's a good thing! We both tend toward being a little bull-headed. I was mostly an assistant to her on these two shows, with a fraction of my normal inventory out and for sale. We had a major theft at our Tacoma show which was a serious downer. It was her inventory that took the hit. She'll survive it, but the thief dealt a blow. Sunday night we wrapped the Portland show and packed up. It was a two margarita dinner for me afterwards and the alchohol was welcome after a long weekend.
Homesick for my Airstream, my pup, my sister, nephew, and all of our horses in Idaho.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tonight in Portland, Oregon my friends Steve and Herb took me to see Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie--a dance company out of Montreal. I came within 40 miles of Montreal three times in August and September, but never quite made it due to time limitations. How lucky to have Montreal come to me.
The production began with a whimsical series of half a dozen couples dancing sequentially to happy, classical music. Act II began with a wonderful piece featuring two men dancing. The two men were supporting each other--one would pick up the other from a broken, dejected state, the mood was lifted and soon the favor was returned. In the meantime their dance featured acrobatic feats of athleticism and beauty. A haunting lyric provided the background for this piece--it was in the genre of the Depression-era music of Woody Guthrie.
The theater was as much a masterpiece as the production. It's Portland's Paramount--a large 1920s theater built in an Italian Renaissance-style. It's a building that takes your breath away. Today it's named the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall after one of the benefactors that helped save and restore the property.
Spamelot and tonight's dance production were both wonderful treats.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Last night I spent the night with Paul, his wife Darcy, and their kids. He lives about 20 miles north of Redmond, Washington--the center of the Microsoft universe.
Paul is always ready to offer a brain dump. This man is a bona fide genius, and he's articulate. After leaving Novell--reluctantly--Reiner went to work for the world's fiercest software company. The writing was on the wall at Novell, and had been for some time. The company's glory days were over and the opportunities were limited. When you can beat 'em . . . .
Paul joined Microsoft in 1999 and was an employee for four years. Initially he helped run the executive briefing center where MS schmoozes clients and world leaders. Among others he gave then Vice President Al Gore a briefing on technology.
His ability to cut to the chase and analyze problems was quickly recognized at the software behemoth. Within 90 days of starting Reiner was beckoned by Steve Balmer to brainstorm some big picture issues affecting the company. His immediate bosses had never seen such a thing--being called in to consult with such a senior executive. Balmer replaced Bill Gates as CEO in 2000. Paul met with Balmer who reassigned him to a more important role helping to define architecture of key software being developed in Redmond.
I am a user of technology and because of my six years working in the software industry I have a basic grasp of some technology issues that goes a little deeper than many people. But I am not a technologist. Paul is. He's a man with a deep and profound understanding of computer science. He's also someone who can easily explain the most difficult concepts. His deep understanding and quick mind allows him to see through complex issues and problems to find solutions.
Our conversations last night and this morning ran the gamut. Paul did the vast majority of the talking and I did my best to absorb all that he emitted--it was a lot.
In 1997 I ran Novell Consulting's truck tour--we built a mobile classroom in a semi that we took to 38 cities in the U.S. and Canada. I enlisted Paul's assistance. His task was to rig up a mobile Internet connection for our truck that would allow us to show off one of Novell's latest products. We would have the first, or at least one of the very first, completely mobile Internet connections on the planet. There were no commercial solutions for this available at that time--ours was a custom job. Paul took this on and had it working in no time. It was one of the coolest things about our very slick mobile classroom, a setup we spent close to a million dollars creating.
I loved seeing Paul and Darcy and their family. Today Paul is a high level consultant hired by Microsoft and leading a team of others in Redmond. Such arrangements have become increasingly common at Microsoft. He gets to be part of the world's most powerful software company, a company whose ability to commercialize software amazes even Paul, yet he's no longer an employee. He says this is the best possibility. He was going to tour me around the MS campus, but it worked out better for my schedule to visit him at his home. I am glad it did--it was fun to spend time with him and his fertile mind.
This is one of the greatest advantages of being an Airstreamer--connecting with so many friends and family throughout the continent. As I drove past Lake Washington today, beginning my way south, I thought of Lake Champlain between Vermont, New York, and Canada--a body of water I'd most recently crossed only six week ago. From Lake Champlain to Lake Washington I've covered the northern part of the country. With winter's quick approach I am headed south.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wrapping up the second day of my twelve day trip with Kellie Forbes. I first met Kellie just under six years ago when I hired her to be my right hand woman during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Here we are again, working hard, and having fun.
Kellie is the woman who introduced me to rock and gem shows and indirectly to meteorites too. She's built a huge business since the Olympics in this industry. She's a talented jewelry designer and has a huge inventory of beads and paraphenalia for making jewelry (silver, clasps, crystal . . . ).
In 39 days I've gone from Windrock Farm in New York to the Pacific Northwest. That's some traveling, especially without an aeroplane!
It's been a crazy couple of days. I was packing up from my Whiskey Creek Farms show earlier yesterday and prepping and packing for this trip. I should say semi-frantically trying to get a hundred things done. One of the "other" things was getting my Airstream winterized since I am exposing it to freezing weather before I head south for the winter. I am sans Airstream on this trip, traveling as Kellie's assistant for a little money and a small amount of free booth space. I chose to hire out the relatively simple task of winterizing because I was so pressed for time and didn't have the tools to do the job. This task expanded into a four hour operation (I was told I'd be in and out of the RV shop in Boise in 30 minutes).
In the meantime my sister Elise (whose farm is my current base camp) was staying home for the day because her dog was about to welp (give birth). Welp she did. As Elise was delivering puppies she went to stand up and her back seized up on her. She was in excruciating pain and couldn't move. I found myself nursing her through the day--she considered the emergency room then decided to tough it out. I assisted with the puppies, little Jack Russell's and very cute. I eventually finished packing at 3:30 PM--about three hours past the original departure time. I later fed Elise's horses, gave Jake lots of hugs goodbye, and so on. A hectic day.
At about 6 PM Kellie arrived, thankfully late given the day. We quickly packed up my stuff for the trip and then took off for what would be an 11 hour drive to our hotel here in Washington. At 4 AM this morning we collapsed for a few hours then we were off again to set up at the show here.
Kellie has a huge amount of inventory, impressive really. She also has mastered the art of cramming inventory into a small floor space. We ran in to a guy named Mark who was our angel today. Kellie hired him on the spot and he assisted with the setup. We worked hard all day and were going strong when they kicked us out at 7 PM.
We had a quick dinner and headed back to the hotel where we have proceeded to work for many hours more. One of the things we did tonight was go through my relatively meager bead inventory and she helped me clean it up, price it, and prep it for sales.
A busy and productive day. Lots of work. It feels good to get so much done.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The art show at Whiskey Creek Farms featured jewelry from a select group of top American artists.
Kellie Forbes of Accent Artistry. Utah resident Kellie Forbes does a lot of business in Idaho. She is an extremely talented jewelry designer and a popular artist at Boise's "Art in the Park." Kellie masterfully composes pieces of jewelry made with gemstone beads and pearls. She's a silver artist and makes glass too.
Amy S of Lebe Loola. A Utahredrock favorite. Scroll down for more on Lebe Loola including some photos that give you an idea of Amy's outstanding work. Amy is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is a well known artist in the East. This is the first time her work has been shown in Idaho.
Sabra of Need to Bead. Boise's own bead goddess from Boise's best bead shop. Sabra's commitment to her art is palpable when you meet her and see her in action at Need to Bead. She is also an expert instructor and teaches beading classes right here in Boise.
Ron of RSB Designs. From his studio in Park City, Utah, Ron is known throughout the mountain West for his work. He's a regular artist at the prestigious Sun Valley and Park City art festivals. His work is unique, expensive, and worth every dime. In his own words: “My focus when creating handcrafted jewelry is to produce mini sculptures which are whimsical with an edge of humor and discovery. The unpredictable use of traditional materials is a constant in my work. I envision my work adorning the body in everyday life.”
Dennis Brugman. The pieces we have from this veteran artisan are similar to those from Lebe Loola. We have about six malachite pendants mounted in sterling. Dennis does the lapidary work (cuts and polishes the stones) and the silver work. He's an immensely talented man.
Other: We have a variety of other jewelry too, most notably perhaps is the old-stock Indian jewelry dating from the early 1970s. These beautiful pieces were made in New Mexico and all of them feature beautiful varisite from northern Utah (almost Idaho!) a green stone often mistaken for turquoise. Utahredrock has other jewelry we've acquired as well, mostly from artists unknown--however, all of it was handmade by somebody somewhere.
Meteorites at an art/jewelry show? This is our specialty and is unrelated to jewelry though we have had some meteorite jewelry this year. Our extensive collection of rocks from space is a must see and if you're interested in these extraterrestrial gems, this is perhaps your best chance to buy a rock older than anything made by our planet by billions of years. This is natural cosmic art.
Thanks to everyone who visited us at Whiskey Creek
Friday, November 02, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Yesterday at my Salt Lake show two friends came by just to say hello. One is someone I’ve known for 17 years now—I first met her in Tivoli, NY through my sister Cari. She’s extremely successful in the film business and extremely cool too. The other is a friend from when I worked on the Olympics, almost six years ago. She is a sweet, wonderful woman who kept me company yesterday afternoon.
I am staying with a friend who has a gorgeous house on the bench of the mountains above downtown. The Airstream stayed in Idaho to save fuel and simplify this weekend’s trip.
Saw Pippa and Kirk last night, two of my favorite people on the planet. They’re thriving, though Kirk almost killed himself recently rolling his vintage Land Cruiser. Luckily he was mostly unharmed. The Land Cruiser, which he had towed to their house, was mortally wounded. He plans to salvage the engine and many parts from it. The three of us had drinks at the Alta Club last night. The club is an old school men's club, that is now open to all sexes. It's very nice with beautiful mission style stained glass at the entrance. Pippa just finished her work on the week long Utah Book Festival and there was a small event at the Alta Club with one of the authors. The three of us hung out, checked out the public areas at the club, and had a drink. I regaled them with stories from my life on the road and got caught up with their year as well.
I’d love to end up back in Utah at some point, though loving life in the Airstream too much still. I’ve just got so many good friends here and Utah is my favorite state. You’d never know that now would you? (See name of web site and business.)
Jake spent the last two days at the best doggie day care place in the world: Dog Mode. I was one of their first customers back in 1999. They’ve since upgraded to a new facility that they designed just for their business. Jon Campbell who owns Dog Mode is a wonderful guy and he’s done a great job creating an ideal environment for pups. He’s won many Best in State awards which are well deserved. His staff is outstanding. At least one guy, LJ, dates back to the days when I took Jackson there. If you haven’t heard of Jackson, my previous pup, there’s a lot more on him posted earlier on this web site (see late 2004).
When I was picking up Jake Friday a guy came in and asked for Jackson. My heart just about stopped and dropped too. Out came his Jackson, a yellow lab. It was a strange moment.
Utah was my home from 1994 to 2002 and I will always love it here. It’s such a pretty state and so diverse, at least in what it has to offer in the outdoors. Of course in other ways it’s not so diverse, though Salt Lake and Park City are much more liberal and heterogeneous than most of the rest of the state. The Mormons were always nice to me. It’s funny to me how many people have a Mormon-phobia and therefore a Utah aversion. They’re just people like everyone else—with their green jello and all (a Utah joke).
Need to get going for the last day of the Wasatch Gem Show.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Lewiston is Idaho's only seaport. Ocean going vessels can reach it via the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The drive from Lewiston to Boise was five solid hours of mountain roads including a hellacious drop in to Hells Canyon. The road plummeted 3,500 feet down to the Salmon River in less than ten miles. My truck and Airstream handled it fine, but my nerves were tested.
My first trip ever to the West was to this area with my brother John in 1983 when we floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River--six days on a world class river and an introduction to the region where I've spent most of my adult life.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Morning Depart Jackson, Michigan, just west of Ann Arbor
Early evening Cross the Mississippi River, I-90, Minnesota
Evening Sleep in Walmart parking lot, Fairmont, Minnesota
Most of day Cross South Dakota, does it ever end?
Mid day Pit stop at Wall Drug, South Dakota tourist stop that had been advertised for 300+ miles
Evening Sleep in Garryowen, Montana at closed RV park parking lot, free but no hookups, again
Mid day Pit stop at the continental divide near Butte, Montana, Jake plays in the snow, I chat it up with father and son pair of pheasant hunters who're on their way home
Afternoon Arrive Missoula, Montana and an RV park with full hookups, showers, and Internet
Jake and I covered 1,800 miles in 2.5 days.
Tuesday was the longest with over 750 miles driven. We're staying in Missoula for two nights before the final 220 miles to Lewiston, Idaho.
Monday, October 15, 2007
With Sven's assistance I managed to back the Airstream in to its tightest spot yet. It barely fit on the narrow single-lane driveway next to Sven's 1920s house. Neighbors had to move cars for us when I was arriving and departing.
I met Sven's wife Kristen (he was single when we first met). He's a journalist and an amazingly good guy--Kristen is a gem too and is about to add a third to their young family.
We were all busy, but still managed to hang out. One of the coolest things we did was go to dinner at a place called Union Street on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. My maternal grandparents are from Detroit. Back in their day the restaurant we ate at was Italian and called Arturo's. While I don't know for sure if they ever went there, I had a strong feeling that they'd been there too. They've been gone since 1985 and 1990--it was nice to imagine I was visiting an old haunt of theirs.
The restaurant was done up in high art deco style that clearly dated from the 1930s but has been faithfully kept up over the decades. I love art deco. Airstream's were born in that same decade and boast the streamlined design also used in the deco style. The interior of my trailer is pure 1970s, but the exterior maintains the 1930s design of the original Airstreams.
Amy Sorensen of Lebe Loola jewelry took care of Jake (my pup) and I spent Sunday night at her very cool 1920s house in Jackson, Michigan, west of Ann Arbor. Muchos muchos gracias for taking great care of the Jakester.
On my way out of Michigan on Monday I was able to meet up with another dear friend, Jennifer D., formerly of Salt Lake City. She's got an amazing spirit and it was a joy to see her.
Michigan is a great state and so different from Ohio--it's neighbor and my home state. It's very much a water state with a strong orientation to the Great Lakes and the smaller lakes of northern Michigan. My family vacationed there when I was young and I've been back a few times because my younger brother is based on Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. October is a good time to be heading out of Michigan too. The winter is long and brutal. For Airstreamers like me, that means it's time to head towards warmer climates (Arizona is coming in about 10 weeks).
The Detroit show went well. Considering the economy there, I was very happy. Thanks to everyone who made it a great weekend.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
She's owned the place for 17 years. She keeps ten horses there, along with two barn cats, three dogs, and a semi-adopted racoon. The driveway to the house and barn is almost a mile long.
Francis has recently been through some major changes in her life. She owns a few beautiful, though neglected houses in Mansfield that she rents and lives in. She spreads herself thin with her full time job, she also owns and runs a separate small business, and manages her farm by herself.
This year she's put a ton of energy into revamping the property. It's called Sandstone Farm and it's in northern Richland County, Ohio. It includes over 240 acres of beautiful Ohio woodlands and fields. The name comes from the house which is built from sandstone blocks. Other than a brief period the house has been empty for at least 30 years. She lived there for about a year seven years back, but it was more like camping. There was not much of a roof, no windows, and no running water. Most tent camping I've done was in higher style and provided more comfort. She got so sick living there in the winter that she relented and returned to civilization.
Her dream has been to live on the property. But it's not exactly up to contemporary living standards. Nevertheless, in late September she moved back out to a cabin where she will be living for at least a year, until she can get the main house usable again.
The cabin is cozy and very cool.
It was just a little plywood building when I last saw it. Now it's got rough hewn planks on the interior walls, insulation (everywhere but the floor--which is plywood suspended over dirt), new wood siding, six new windows, and even heating. There is still no running water--she showers in town.
It looks great, especially from the perspective of this full time Airstreamer. I purchased a second Airstream and she considered moving in to that, but sadly opted out for her self-made cabin, which I admit is cool and more appropriate to her needs.
Her barn is in great shape. For her birthday my mom and I gave her a load of gravel to fill a huge hole between the barn and the paddock where the horses come in and out daily. For too long the hole was a pit of mud and muck. It's now solid ground and should stay dry.
I took my Airstream out for the night and we had dinner in there. Francis looked very elegant eating dinner on the couch of my traveling home. There is nothing like an Airstream to add a touch of refinement to a once neglected farm.
It was fun and wonderful to see her living on her property again. While she has a long way to go, her living quarters this time around are much better than when she lived in the stone house seven years ago.
It will take time but if the progress she's made this year is any indicator, this will be one amazing property very soon.
My Airstream has now visited horse farms in South Carolina, Virginia, New York, and Ohio.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
On October 1st I gave a talk on meteorites at Kingwood Center in Mansfield to the Richland Lapidary Society. The talk emphasized the profound impact rocks from space have had on our planet. It featured a discussion of the meteorite that hit earth 65 million years ago and took out 70% of all species including the dinosaurs.
We also were covered by the local television station WMFD who spent an hour interviewing me on Saturday. That was fun.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Cari and I headed out on our last ride together before I head West. A beautiful fall day in Dutchess County, New York. We had a small show at her farm last night featuring my meteorites, jewelry, and the rest of my ecclectic collection. Also, RJ and Cari did a demo--advanced horse tricks!
Don't let this guy fool you. He's looking a little lackluster here. This horse is no trail hack. He's got brains, talent, and athleticism. He plays dead (a lot of horses die on film in action sequences), rears on command, bows, looks on command, and does a thousand other things I've never seen a horse do. RJ came to her from one of Hollwood's top horse trainers--Rex Peterson.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I am here in New York to peddle my meteorites. Just arrived back from Denver (via air) and have spent the past three days hauling meteorites around town.
Be sure you get this picture. Beautiful fall day. September. New York. Jim lugging 80 plus pounds of meteorites around the city including up and down the stairs to the subway. I've been commuting in from Brooklyn in the mornings and cold calling rock shops, fossil shops, antique dealers, and jewelers with my borrowed and very heavy rolling case of rocks from space.
I sold a few.
Highlights of the trip included seeing my friends Kim S and Michael M.
Michael, a Utah friend who now resides in NYC let me stay at his place in Brooklyn. Kim let me use her mid-town office as a base camp to somewhat limit the amount of stuff I hauled around with me during the day.
I loved seeing the meteorite exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. The guard commented on my bag of meteorites that I took with me in to the museum that "that's not something you see every day."
The museum has the best meteorite exhibit I've ever seen including the largest meteorite on display in any museum in the world: the 34 ton Ahnighito Meteorite, part of the Cape York from Greenland.
Go to http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent/meteorites/what/ahnighito.php for more information.
The biggest highlight of the trip was seeing the city itself when it was booming and in the glory of fine fall weather. New York is amazing. They started filming Sex in the City the film while I was there. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte, and Mr. Big were on the streets of Manhattan again, and I was there too! Now that's a thrill. ; )
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The bulk of my business this year has been selling Campo del Cielo meteorites. These are iron-nickel meteorites--hunks of iron, often rusty, from outer space.
In August I acquired two collections of meteorites including dozens of different types. The problem was, as a neophyte, I didn't know how to price these little gems from space. I knew enough to know a good deal when I bought them, but that was the limit of my expertise.
Yesterday I was privileged to receive unlimited and free assistance from one of the world's top meteorite dealers: Blaine Reed. With Blaine's assistance I was able to price my new meteorites at fair market prices.
Working with him was a hell of an experience. While I've learned a lot about meteorites this year, I obviously know infinitely less than a top dealer who has passionately collected and dealt in meteorites for decades. His knowledge was impressive. He could easily distinguish one type from another among over 50 different types of meteorites. At one point I questioned him about a price he was suggesting and he replied: "I can't even begin to communicate all of the subtleties of why some meteorites are more valuable than others. I can just help you price them." There was nothing arrogant in his tone. It was a reminder as to how much I have to learn. Blaine was impressed with my meteorites which included some he hadn't seen in a while.
Yesterday I purchased a flat of material from the so called K-T boundary. This is the line in the geological record between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. (Geologists use the letter K to abbreviate Cretaceous.) The K-T boundary material contains the clues geologists used to give credence to the theory that a meteorite took out the dinosaurs. The story is a fascinating one. In short, a giant meteor is believed to have entered the earth's atmosphere 65 million years ago and crash in to our planet at the Yucatan peninsula. Among other things this not so little rock from space is believed to have created tidal waves a thousand feet high that cruised hundreds of miles inland along thousands of miles of coast lines. Enough matter was thrown in to the atmosphere to shut down photosynthesis and disrupt the food chain killing over 70% of all life on earth including all of the dinos (except for birds who are modern day dino-survivors).
There is much more to this tale but one of the key results was opening the door in the evolutionary chain of events that allowed for the rise of mammals who until that time could not compete with the dinosaurs.
Hence, a meteorite is responsible for our very existence. It's quite a tale and the K-T material I purchased yesterday holds the evidence of this cataclysmic event. I've had many people request pieces of it before and now I have some! It's not expensive, but it is a must have for collectors.
You can read a little more on the K-T boundary at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous%E2%80%93Tertiary_extinction_event
It's been absolutely wonderful to connect with the meteorite community and especially to see Jose G (my Campo man) whose support has been invaluable in getting my business going this year.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Life on the farm
Is kind of laid back
Ain’t nothin an Airstreamer like me can’t hack
Early to bed
Early in the sack
Thank God I’m an Airstreamin’ boy
Since early August I've been based at Windrock Farm, my sister's place between Millbrook and Amenia, New York. Still traveling a lot too.
I’ve been Airstreamless since August 13th!
It’s a crime.
Reunited with my trailer briefly from August 22nd to the 28th.
It’s at Colin Hyde's in Plattsburgh, New York getting new axles and a thousand other little things including some replaced floor and new floor covering.
This Airstream is becoming high cotton.
Pick up my home around September 19th.
In the meantime being at Windrock Farm is like taking on the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It's a spectacular property, especially if you like horses. The main house is huge, about 10,000 square feet. The barn apartment isn’t too shabby either. I’ve stayed in both. For pictures and more info go to http://www.windrockfarm.com/
Pictures don’t do it justice but you can get a sense. Go to http://www.cariswanson.com/ for more on my sister.
She has treated me like visiting royalty (so I like to think).
Today I leave for a trip to New York City and Denver traveling by plane, train, and rented automobile. There’s a huge rock show there and I am showing some premium meteorites I’ve acquired in the past month. For more on the Denver show go to
Since leaving Aiken in early July (see below) I’ve been to too many places to mention. In brief: 14 states plus D.C. Mostly in the East but I also spent a weekend at a seminar in Las Vegas with my mom and my sister Elise (of Idaho). As of this writing I’ve been to 25 states plus D.C. so far this year. Not one state is a “new” state for me!
Famous people I’ve seen since Aiken (famous in my world, not including immediate family): Jim, Alison, and Kim Range, Colin and Suzanne Hyde, Rich and Eleanor Luhr, Valerie Leonard, Harley Muse, Christy Williams, Jim and Tally, James Ray, Tom Sullivan, Martin Zinn, and many more.
Become an Airstreamer and buy a meteorite. Your life will never be the same.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
My first crossing of Lake Champlain going from Grand Isle, Vermont to just north of Plattsburgh, New York and just south of the Canadian border, Quebec. I would cross the lake with my truck three more times but this was the only crossing with the Airstream. The Airstream was about to get new axles and have a thousand other things done to it (many by me directly) at my friend Colin Hyde's Airstream restoration shop in Plattsburgh, New York. His business is called GSM Vehicles.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I had the priveledge of spending three days with this man at my sister's farm. He was there teaching a workshop. This guy is an authentic Hollywood wrangler/horse-trainer. He's worked with many top stars and has been involved with countless films for over 30 years. He's the man behind the horses in the movies. I've been around horses my entire life and am not a bad rider myself. I've seen and sometimes worked with some very talented horsemen (and women) including both of my sisters. There is something about Rex that sets him apart. He's more than a horse whisperer, he's that and more. The things he can do with horses are incredible. And he's just a damn good guy. Rex flew in from California to do the workshop at Cari's.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
When you turn on to South Boundary Avenue you find yourself surrounded by the American South at its finest. Live Oaks, a type of Oak tree with gnarly branches, line the street and the branches reach up from both sides crowning the thoroughfare. As I pulled my Airstream through this beautiful vista of trees and southern homes the sight overwhelmed me. My friend Gina lives along South Boundary, and her farm: Red Barn Stables is just a block off of this beautiful street. I turned down a side street to park at Gina's barn and set up my Airstreaming house for a few days.
I am a decent rider and Gina got me mounted up in no time. We did three wonderful rides--two of these were in Hitchcock Woods. The Woods are the legacy of horse lovers from over half a century ago. The land, all 2,200 acres of it, came primarily from just a few families. It is owned by a private foundation and open to horses, as well as people on foot. Hitchcock Woods is filled with the ubiquitous southern pines of course, but also many hardwoods. There are well maintained jumps for the horses (which we put to good use), and perfect footing of sand everywhere. The red clay country is some twenty plus miles away.
Aiken is the only town I've ever seen where you can live in an urban neighborhood (it's a small town, but still a city), keep horses on a couple of acres, and have access to great restaurants and bars and a place to ride where you can literally go for hours without crossing a road (you do cross a road or two on your way in to the woods, but the town is well equipped for horses with handy equestrian crossings).
Gina was a true southern hostess and she showed me a grand time. In addition to the great rides we had fun lunches and even funner dinners every night. (Is funner a word? Is now!).
I missed another friend of mine who lives there, due to my neglect in tracking down her number, but otherwise it was a perfect visit.
I even managed to conduct a fair amount of business during my "days off" there.
With 47 polo fields and more coming soon, Aiken is polo crazy. Between polo, foxhunting, eventing, steeplechasing, and regular horse racing, Aiken has it all including many looney horse people with their horse money. Such a town is bound to have more than its share of intrigue. I got my fill of tales from the town's dark side. I heard of a death in the hunt field (that's foxhunting--see my March 2004 entry for more on foxhunting near Aiken). I met a gentleman who banged his head so hard during a hunt he's still recovering and has a ways to go. I heard of an old-timer who died in his field with his cows--a heart attack in his eighties. A good way to go all things considered. Then I heard the worst one of them all. This one didn't involve horses (or cows) as far as I know. Last fall a man in his fifties dropped in to see his mother. He murdered dear mum, rolled her up in a blanket, put her in the front yard by some bushes, and proceeded on his way to his daughter's wedding. "Sorry honey, grandma can't make it." Damn . . . you have to wonder what prompted that--though with people it could have been anything or nothing. The crime scene is along our horse route into Hitchcock Woods.
Back to the sunny side of things . . . bad things happen everywhere after all.
It was a fun, fun visit.
Go to http://www.sciway.net/photos/aiken-sc.html for a view of South Boundary Ave.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
After a good night's sleep in the Georgia pines I awoke surrounded by a contingent of Canadian Airstreamers. Like so many Canadians they couldn't have been nicer but this was the wrong group. The Vintage crowd was in a different section of the park so I moved over to join them.
Parked with the Vintage crowd I was in Airstream heaven! There were completely restored models dating back to 1935. Most were from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. There are very few Airstreams from the 1940s due to the war and the time after the war before the company got into full swing again.
I met Ken and Petey Faber of Michigan and Arizona. They toured me through their early sixties trailer and their beautifully restored 1955 GMC pickup. These two are famous for their vintage trailers. Magazines and writers of coffee table books do an excellent job covering the Faber's restored trailers. They've been Airstreaming for many years.
Dr. Holman was also there. He's the owner of a 1935 trailer his father built using plans from Wally Byam, Airstream's founder. He bills his trailer as the oldest Airstream on the road. I'd seen pictures in books. As I found myself standing in this trailer talking to him it was a little eery. Is this real or am I visualizing the images in front of me from photos I'd been looking at in Wanderlust (an Airstream book)? I couldn't get out of my mind the fact that this not so young man had been conceived in that trailer many decades earlier, a fun fact I'd just as soon rather not know but it was in the book.
I met Shari Davis the incoming president of the Vintage Club who was just in from Denver with her very muscular friend Jim. She had an adorable little trailer, 1950s or 60s--completely buffed up and shining like a mirror. She officially signed me up as a new member of the Vintage Club.
That's the cool thing in the vintage crowd, to buff your trailer and make it shinier than it was when it was new. I am sure I'll be buffing mine before too long. To be a vintage trailer it has to be 25 years old or more which puts us up into the not so distant early 1980s.
My favorite was the Belize Trailer. The guy had decked out his Airstream in a Belize theme. He'd printed a banner that said "Welcome to Belize" which he hung from his awning. There was a neon palm tree, a few pink flamingos, and a neon martini on a table. It was all done up to the nines and looked fabulous. I didn't get to speak to him until over a week later near the end of the rally. Just too many people to meet.
The next morning the Vintage Club paraded in to the main event, the 50th Annual International Airstream Rally, put on by WBCCI--the Wally Byam Caravaner Club International. Byam (Airstream's founder) was a flamboyant guy who led Airstream caravans on nearly every continent around the world. One of his most epic journeys was Capetown (South Africa) to Cairo (Egypt)--a caravan they plan to repeat next year. Sounds like fun to me. Around fifty vintage units were welcomed at the Georgia National Fairgrounds where over 800 trailers (and some Airstream motor homes) had already set up. Fellow Airstreamers welcomed us with flags and waves as we caravaned in.
I was fortunate enough to be parked under one of the few trees there, a big old oak. For the next eight nights I was parked in this Airstream haven. I was pleasantly surprised by the weather. There were hot and muggy moments to be sure, but after three summers in Phoenix it just didn't seem that hot. If one more person mentions "the dry heat" as if it were somehow not actually hot I will have to slug them. Every night I turned off the AC and opened the windows. I'd never do that in Phoenix this time of year.
It was now time to meet my colorful neighbors.
On one side of me was a guy named Leo who informed me the only reason he came was to vote on some issue related to whether or not non-Airstream motorhome owners could be part of the Airstream club. His position was Hell No! He'd even set up a web site. He was a great guy, despite his passion for the club politics . . .
The guy on the other side of him was from Front Royal, Virginia not far from where I lived in Berryville in 2002-2003. We had some mutual acquaintances including some good friends of mine who were an arch-enemy of his. He's a hot air ballooner and my friends raise horses and don't like people ballooning over their property. His name is Paul. He has a 1968 Airstream and a 1966 International Harvester Travelall as his tow vehicle. Quite a good looking rig and not a bad guy either despite his hot air ballooning ways. He talked me into joining the DC Unit. I had been a member-at-large, but wanted to join a unit and why not DC? I'd lived there once and don't live anywhere right now.
Parked nearby were Colin and Suzanne who own an Airstream restoration business out of Plattsburgh, New York. They are Canadians and are super-cool. Their high profile job of the moment is an extensive restoration of a 1952 Airstream for the world's most famous Airstreamer: Matthew McConaughey. Matthew, as we referred to him, sold all of his real estate and has been full-timing for a couple of years. He'll soon have at least 3 or 4 trailers so he has room for guests (and maybe staff too). Colin installed some lights for me, updating my original running lights with LED lights. I'd lost two lens caps on the way to Georgia. The new ones look the same as the original, just brighter. I am going to have a few other things done by Colin in August.
Kitty-corner from me were Harley and John. These two were the life of the Vintage community hosting cocktail and dinner parties and just being damn good guys.
Every afternoon at 4:30, in the muggiest part of the early Georgia summer, the Vintage club met for Happy Hour under one of the big oaks. The Vintage-ites tend to be younger than the average Airstreamer attending one of these big rallies and we know how to have fun too.
For five days I set up shop as a vendor, peddling meteorites, jewelry, and my other usual wares. I even gave a talk on meteorites that went well. One fun moment came when I spent ten or fifteen minutes with Bob Wheeler, Airstream's president. I showed him some meteorites and the picture I show everyone of my truck and trailer in front of Ship Wreck Rock near the Utah-Arizona border. Bob's about my age and is on a more traditional career path. I also hauled my largest meteorite over to the Vintage Happy Hour one afternoon and placed it prominently in the center of the gathering. This may have been a vintage first.
Rich Luhr and Brett Greiveldinger were attending the rally and mingling with the crowds. Rich is the founder, publisher, and editor of a magazine called Airstream Life. He's been publishing it for a few years as he fulltimes with his wife and daughter. Rich is a friendly guy capably championing the Airstream way of life. Brett helps out on the magazine with marketing, ad sales, and other important functions. I am now a subscriber of Airstream Life and also own a set of all issues published to date.
Lost in a sea of shiny silver, I couldn't have had much more fun. My 1973 Airstream and I left Perry on July 5th.
A special thanks to Lloyd and Dona Garner of Ohio for introducing me to WBCCI. Thanks to Paul Waddell for welcoming me to the DC Unit. Apologies to the many many other amazing people I met who are not mentioned here.
To subscribe to Airstream Life (strongly recommended) go to http://www.airstreamlife.com/
To get in touch with one of the world's top Airstream restorers email Colin at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on WBCCI visit their web site at http://www.wbcci.org/
The Vintage Airstream Club can be found at http://www.airstream.net/
The DC Unit is at http://www.servintfree.net/wbcci-dc/index06.html
It's time to buy an Airstream or take yours out onto the roads of the world.