Salton Sea, Take 2, Bananas & Salvation Mountain

The first time I went to Salton Sea, I assumed it was some tiny little body of water, so figured it would be a cinch to find Bombay Beach. Sara and I got there and found a closed visitor’s center and a very smelly run down shack. This time, I made sure to actually research where it is.  This time was also my boyfriend’s first Dart and Map adventure, where it takes 8 hours to go on a 2 hour trip.

Brian and I went to Pappy and Harriets to meet up with some of his friends and to see Lucinda Williams, who was already on the stage playing by the time we got there.  Pappys is a great little restaurant and music joint in Pioneertown, which is about 1 1/2-2 hours from Los Angeles. Pioneertown was originally built as a set for Hollywood Western movies. Now, it has a motel, Pappys & Harriets and the old set buildings with weekend shoot-out reenactments.

We chatted Lucinda up a little bit after the show, which was very cool, and  IMG_9396since I had a few drinks by then, I babbled about how I had learned to play one of her songs on the guitar. Except, it probably sounded more like “ohhh! You inspired me to pick up the guitar and PLAY! bleeh awesome! woo supporting women woohoo” or whatever I said.  My happy drunk is very puppies and rainbows. And then I was probably asleep by midnight.

The discovery of the International Banana Museum trumped my excitement of finally knowing the location of Bombay Beach. Ever since I met a banana in San Francisco, I have developed a bit of an obsession for all things banana. (No, I do not have a million little banana trinkets.) Brian and I got up and out of our hotel room and drove to the banana nirvana. IMG_9403The website said it was open. I didn’t think to call anyway. So, of course, it was closed. IMG_9401

The owner did answer the phone when I called while in front of the place, but he was on his way out of town. Banana dreams. Foiled. (I can’t think of a good banana pun, so foiled will have to do.)

Next, we went to Bombay Beach. Its heyday was in the 1950s and 60s, with Hollywood celebrities flocking there.  The high salinity, followed by storms destroyed this playcation hotspot by the 70s. If you look up the Salton Sea, you always see a picture of a decaying van. So, when you get there and do not see it, there is disappointment. Fortunately, Brian knows a lot of people and ran into a guy he knew. That guy was with a girl that had been visiting since the 80s and directed me to the iconic van. Now it looks like this: IMG_2170

 

 

There were some dead fish IMG_2164and random objects along with the rubble of what once was.

Brian grabbed the camera and snapped this pretty awesome photo. IMG_2161

 

 

IMG_2178

No. They don’t live here.

There are a bunch of trailers off of the beach where people still reside.

We went to a local place called Ski Inn for lunch before we darted off to Salvation Mountain, which is another iconic place you have to visit when you are in Southern California.

Salvation Mountain is the recently deceased Leonard Knight‘s way of sending his message to everyone that “God is Love.”  It is about 20 minutes East of Bombay Beach.

IMG_9417

Surely you have seen a picture of this…

People donated paint to him so that he could create his brightly colored mountain, filled with art.  We walked around and checked out all of the cool art on and within IMG_9420IMG_2209 IMG_2206

 

 

 

IMG_2202

Brian. Looking at the art while… oh… yes.. BECOMING the art.
mmhmm See how I did that?

 

the mountain. We were curious about Slab City as well, being that it is RIGHT THERE, but have read enough about it to maybe go when we are feeling more adventurous. Slab is an off-the-grid kind of place. Though it sounds like there are plenty of artists and very interesting types of people there, we were advised to skip it.

We decided finish going around the Salton Sea instead of back tracking.

IMG_2219

Love driving through new places! I don’t know why it fascinated me that it is so close to Mexico, as was made very clear by the Border Patrol stop we had to make on our way back up. Since we weren’t smuggling anyone or anything, we zipped past and watched the Sea on our right until we reached the 10 Freeway to Los Angeles.

IMG_2225

-Jenn

 

Old Mine. Whorehouse. Trains. Flat Tires. Sounds Like Goldfield!

Once we pick a direction in which to travel, we Google everything from Los Angeles to the destination to find interesting places in which to stop.  This time, our search led us to Goldfield, Arizona.

IMG_1042

 

That was the most INTERESTING start to a blog EVER!

 

Starving, as we always are, we high-tailed it to the ghost town’s restaurant, Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon and ate our faces off while listening to a musician rock some tunes.

We schlepped down a little hill and went to the gold mine. Jumped into the old and rickety elevator and went down down down deep into the old mine.  Our guide told us what all the tools were used for and other stuff that went on there. That was, in between a bit of his political views. IMG_2577He was fantastic!! When the tour was done, we were made to walk up ALL the stairs to the top.

I will go ahead and say that bringing high heeled shoes on a road trip – as your only pair of close-toed shoes is really dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

 

The Mystery Shack was near the gold mine so we walked on over and went in.  IMG_2576(Okay. Really. The whole town is near everything in itself.) It is a shack built into a hill and everything is at a 45 degree angle. The guide had people demonstrating how f-ed it makes your sense of balance. Like walking to one side and back… And he had Sara sit on a chair – then put a ball on some wood thing on the wall. The end of the wood thing would make the ball fly right at the person on the chair.  So, even though we all knew damn well that thing was not going to really hit the person – was fun to watch the chair sitter freak out and jump up. HA!  I didn’t get to try anything because of my freaking high heels.

There was a reptile exhibit, so that had to happen. Even though I live in California, I have never seen (and never want to) a rattlesnake in the wild, so a zoo or exhibit is the closest I will ever get (I hope!)

The next attraction we checked out was the whorehouse, of course. (p.s. My spellcheck just made sure to correct me that whorehouse is one word and not two. Phew!) Lu Lu’s Bordello. It cost a few bucks to take the tour and it was a nice quick one as well. What we learned was that whoring back then was even ickier than what ick we assumed. The girls had to bring flipping buckets of water to the house so the smelly dirty ass miners can bathe. So, the first miner got the clean water and the rest of the miners after were in nastier, dirtier & shittier water. Mmm Yes. Bathing in the same water all night long. What does that even say about the guys at the end of the night? Why would they even go for that?!! Uhm.. Get there earlier. Dumbasses. The girls also wrote letters home for the men.  The newer girls were in this particular bordello, til the madam trusted them. Then, when they were nice and broken in, they went across to the saloon.

Only Sara and I were on the tour.  But, our tour guide, dressed as a “Floozy,” projected as though she were in a room with 50 people as soon as she started on her memorized schpiel. But, if one of us talked to her, she spoke in her normal voice. At the end of the tour, we were encouraged to hang out and take pictures. There was a bathtub. (I don’t know if it was a replica or an original tub.) (Okay. I hope replica because, otherwise.. EWW!)

IMG_1026Sara put her foot in it to pose and it made the loudest noise, like it was breaking or something.  We were sure they would come back upstairs and reprimand us, but they didn’t. Yay, Us! We broke Goldfield and got away with it!

 

The last thing we hit up was the train. It went around the town. It was the last ride of the day and was during sunset, so the lighting was amazing.

IMG_1045  Before we ditched out towards Tucson, we browsed the gift shop. I have a few friends with awesome children, for whom I love to buy interesting presents, so a little bit of shopping is a must sometimes.  I also bought candy. For me. And did not share it. Ney!

 When we exited the parking lot, Sara’s tire died.  I have changed many a tire in my life, but was in no mood. But, before I even had a chance to call Auto Club, a truck pulled up and a man, that is one of the train conductors, stepped out and saved the day. He had the best name. Whiplash.  whiplashHe put on the spare. Posed for a picture and sent us to a WalMart. And nothing says “Old West” like WalMart.

 For girls that always lived in cities – the products in that WalMart were.. uh.. interesting..  IMG_2596

 

 

When the tire was fixed (which was very quick), we said “F it!” and went all the way to Tucson. Tombstone was on our minds.

Then we hung out with strippers and skydived into the Grand Canyon in wetsuits, holding cardboard..
haha. Yeaaahhh Noooo…. Just making sure you are still paying attention!

 

Jenn

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

 

 

 

 

Bananas and Other Missed Opportunities

Plans are few and far between on the road, as are reservations when Jenn and I travel, and traveling solo was no different for me. As I made my way from East to West across the states I pretty much stayed where I wound up by day’s end that had a vacancy and a cheap rate. And always only after a bedbug bed check Jenn had instilled in me whenever we traveled as I’d watch her strip the sheets of her bed while I was more worried with checking Yelp for what nightcaps were in the area. Once she was satisfied they were clear, we’d settle in and head out.

Sometimes we’d note places to go and things to see and even get to them if they were of utmost importance, and sometimes we’d see a road sign for a landmark or local must-see and take a segue from the path for that instead. For the places we’d wind up missing as a result or didn’t get to in time we’d just add them to our list for the future.

And then there are the fruitless but fun pursuits. Somewhere outside of Atlanta Jenn texted me that the Big Banana Car was on display. So with her as my co-pilot in spirit I turned around and drove in its direction. If you know anything about Jenn then you know she loves her bananas.

When it comes to costume parties I go glam and Jenn goes bananas

When it comes to costume parties I go glam and Jenn goes bananas

 

 

 

 

 

And if you know anything about GPS and map apps you know they’re not always right. Half an hour into my journey the directions sent me to some industrial park with a similar named street. There was no banana where I wound up, just an office building and a cop who pulled up alongside to tell me to pull into the parking lot nearby instead of the side of the road where I was attempting to re-route my route. Eventually I did see 3 banana yellow colored cars but no actual banana.

Not a banana

Not a banana

 

 

 

 

 

Not a banana either

Not a banana either

 

 

 

Finally I made it to the strip mall where they had tweeted they were at when Jenn texted they just posted they had packed up and were off to their next destination. Mission Banana was a bust. By this point I was hungry and saw something banana yellow nearby calling my name.

Moe knows it's lunchtime

Moe knows it’s lunchtime

 

 

 

It was named Moe’s and had a great big sign hailing it as the original Moe’s.

Moe's sign

I figured it was a local southern fave. Turned out it was more South of the border as it served up southwest fare and was a chain rather than a Mom & Pop’s type place I prefer, but new to these parts it wasn’t a franchise I was familiar with and I’m always up for a quesadilla to quell my hunger, so I ordered up a chicken club one and sampled the salsa bar as I took a bite of a new (for me) regional staple. I was less bummed I passed up something more regionally Southern in these parts, like the BBQ joint I passed back by the industrial park, than I was about being able to connect with a banana for Jenn. We have a very odd bond. But when someone has saved your life in the past you’re willing to jump on board and support what they live for.

Still not a banana

Still not a banana

 

 

 

 

 

Found these at a gas station/convenience store. So close.

Found these at a gas station/convenience store. So close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my way to Nashville that night I made a detour to Chattanooga and delighted myself (I’m easily amused) by standing on the tracks of where the Chattanooga Choo-Choo once chugged along.

Choo Choo!

Choo Choo!

 

 

 

 

 

tracks

 

 

 

 

 

tracks feet

 

 

 

 

 

Whiskey is another passion of Jenn’s. Bananas and whiskey, what’s not to love about that gal? She’s a fun friend. It’s a shared love, as I do enjoy a good whiskey sour time and again, so in her honor as I continued on and saw signs for the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in the distance I also made a sidetrack trip to see that. Sadly it was closed by the time I made it to its gates, which is ironically situated in a dry county, but the scent of the pungent forbidden spirits filled the air. I paid my respects and took a photo before moving on.

JD sign

Unfortunately Nashville would prove to be a dry stop for me as well even though it was soaking wet. After managing my hydroplaning car through a torrential downpour on the highway I could only find an affordable hotel on the outskirts of the city. I drove down the main strip of fun bars and listened to the live country music coming from each, but decided that to stop for a drink and try to find my hotel in the rain or bothering to go back was not particularly wise or safe (or would be near the legal limit if you saw the number of fun bars there were to try) so I stayed in and added a night out in Nashville to the future to do list for another visit.

2 of my favorite things. I will be back.

2 of my favorite things. I will be back.

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning I did find a funky banana yellow van in the parking lot registered to seekers of the paranormal. Proving that on the road you can count on the abnorm.

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

 

 

 

 

 

On my way out the random encounters continued as I drove through the city on a sunnier morning. I was greeted with participants dressed in tutus and even bunny ears gearing up in costume for some sort of run/walk fundraiser. I saw a big boot, a giant guitar, and the birthplace of bluegrass, Ryman Auditorium.

Size does matter

Size does matter

 

 

 

 

 

 

guitarBlues sign

 

 

 

 

Somewhere outside of Music City there was no love as I came across a very likeable little place called the Loveless Café.

No love, no vacancy

No love, no vacancy

 

 

 

 

Well in lieu of love they had something even better, lots of bacon! bacon sign

 

 

The BBQ smoker house adjacent was at it filling the air with rich smoky goodness for the dishes being served up inside but there was a line out the door and a wait for a seat so sadly I passed on some ribs and got some of their Piggy Popcorn, candied bacon popcorn, which they sold in their shop alongside an assortment of bacon concoctions and themed gifts as well as a variety of another local fave, pralines, including whiskey ones. I was really enjoying my taste of Tennessee.

Oink if you love bacon

Oink if you love bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

bacon sign 2

 

 

 

 

Mmm, that's nuts.

Mmm, that’s nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I drove out a loveless-themed tune called “Merry Go Round” by Kacey Musgraves came on the radio with the lyrics, “Mary Mary quite contrary, we get bored so we get married… Jack and Jill went up the hill, Jack burned out on booze and pills and Mary had a little lamb, Mary just don’t give a damn no more.” I turned it up as I was even starting to enjoy Country music too. They sure do know how to turn a phrase and tell a story. I looked forward to my next new story on the horizon as I headed down the road.

Happy trails,
Sara

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Virginia Is For Sliders

I thought Virginia was for lovers, but since I was traveling solo this trip, and my last relationship was in the rearview along with the rest of the roadkill, I was just passing through, so there was no lovin’ as I drove through the state, heading back to the West coast to join back up with Jenn for some new adventures ahead, but I did have some tasty sliders for supper. More on that when I get there. As I ventured further into the South on this trip, having started in New England, it was time to see some history on the southside.

Abram's Delight

Delightful

I stopped in Winchester where I pulled into the parking lot of the Visitors Center so I could get some info on these here parts. Across from it was Abram’s Delight, a beautiful stone structure and Winchester’s oldest home, built in 1754.  There was a fee to enter it so I just took in its glory from the outside. Now I don’t mind spending a buck when worth it, especially when it comes to a recreational experience, beverage, or bite when on the road, which is my favorite way to taste life and the local cuisine as I travel, but some things you just get with a view and a photo. You know that scene in Vacation, where once they get to The Grand Canyon, they take it in briefly before Clark hurries them all back into the station wagon to keep moving? Sometimes I travel like that. But not at The Grand Canyon. That, by far, was one of the most majestic views and best stops on trips Jenn and I have hit the road for. We made sure to see both the North and South rims on that trip, and lingered throughout both days to take it all in.  But I’ve seen my share of colonial stone homes, so I headed on into the Visitors Center to learn what else was around.

Not only was there a nice little informative film montage to fill you in on the history of the area but a very helpful desk attendant who handed out maps and even guided me to specific spots I should see and go eat at.

Patsy sign

But before I got my grub on and left there, first I needed to go through the Patsy Cline exhibit.  They had one there and it was free. It was also on the backside of the wall that projected the film retrospective I had just previously viewed. Turns out Patsy was from these parts and had a home there where she once lived that I also got a picture of.

blue portrait

Patsy’s Blue Period

 

 

 

 

The exhibit was as adorable and “Crazy” as Patsy.  It was more like a shrine of sorts.

 

bw pic

Pretty as a picture

Fan memorabilia

Fan memorabilia

 

 

 

 

 

Consisting of signed and donated items by fans, mostly photos and painted portraits, including a piece signed by Jimmy Stewart dated 1996, and a jukebox with her tune “Crazy” at the top spot as the first selection.

Jukebox Hero

Jukebox Hero

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press play for "Crazy"

Press play for “Crazy”

 

 

 

 

 

Along with country music, there were some serious pre-Civil/Revolutionary War activities in the acres of this region as it stood its ground, dating back to 1755 with the headquarters of a young George Washington.

The Office of the Pre-President

The Office of the Pre-President

My first historic stop as I headed out was to see our first President’s office, which he occupied as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia while defending the frontier.

Me and Georgie boy

Me and Georgie boy

 

 

 

 

Along with a statue of his likeness, which provided a fun photo op, was the canon he used to defend Fort Loudoun. Pew Pew!

 

Bam!

Bam!

SW Jaxkson

Jackson’s crib

Just up the road, and a little further along on the history timeline, was Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters.

Occupied as a Major during his time there from 1861-1862, before leaving to head up his Valley Campaign and going on to become a General for the Confederacy, it now stands as an historical landmark.

letter home

Checking in with the wifey

 

 

A sign displays a snippet of a letter home to his wife describing everything from the wallpaper to the paintings to how the flue heated the home.  Just goes to show, if an officer in his day in the midst of military planning could take the time to pen such descriptions to his beloved the least a modern day man can do is return a text.  The lessons you learn on the road…

 

Wanting to keep it authentic I decided to dine at a local long-standing establishment, the Cork Street Tavern.  Rumored to be haunted, having once served as a hospital space for recovering and dying Confederate soldiers (some whose bodies are said to have been buried in the basement below) the only spirits the tavern seemed to serve that day were at the bar. I ordered a Chardonnay from local winery, Naked Mountain. The tavern had also been rumored to have once been a brothel, so it seemed a fittingly named beverage brand to accompany my meal, the aforementioned sliders.

Tasty treats

Tasty treats

 

These were a step up from your standard small sized bar burgers as they served their sliders in the form of mini French Dip sandwiches. Tender roast beef slices slivered on golden egg brushed buns and fresh warm savory kettle chips on the side.

Mr. Presidents

Mr. Presidents

 

And speaking of sides, to my right was a Wall of Presidents; photos of various 20th century U.S. Presidents, and to my left were photos of the White House and Air Force One. Across the room was a wall of stars and comedians featuring framed photos of John Wayne, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers and the cast of The Honeymooners.  Considering I once wrote political comedy, there were at least ghosts of my combined themed past in that room on those walls.

 

Casa de Cline

Casa de Cline

With some daylight left, I headed out onto the cobblestone walks and made my way to a brick-lined walkway leading up to the doorstep of Patsy Cline’s home, now a landmark itself. As the marker states, she was killed in a plane crash. Seems we’re sort of kindred spirits, except I managed to escape mine. I was not aware of how she passed before I came here, but like I said, there’s always something to learn on the road…

moon

I soon was back on it and by that night with a full moon overhead I crashed at a HoJo in Salem which provided a plentiful buffet with fresh hot biscuits to boot and a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains when I awoke in the morning as I set out for my next destination in the South.

blue ridge

 

 

Happy Travels,

-Sara

 

 

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

 

King Me

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

ticket

I’ve got a golden ticket!

On a recent cross country road trip I grew giddy when I discovered I’d be passing through a must see city on my list, Memphis, and was sure to stop to see its local treasure, the hallowed home of Elvis. It was even apropos that my visit to Graceland would fall on Easter weekend to take in where the King of kings once lived.

 

With my AAA card I got a discount for the Platinum Tour which included a tour of his 2 planes and his beloved car collection.

planes sign

 

Daddy’s little girl, Lisa Marie, got a plane named after her. And what a nice ride it was. My dad gave me the keys to the family station wagon to borrow once in a while and later the spare Hyundai we had parked in the driveway growing up. This was definitely a different kind of dad.

LM plane

Now this is flying First Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

TSA Elvis style

TSA Elvis style

You ain't nothing but a Hound Dog II, but still nothing to sneeze at

You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog II, but still nothing to sneeze at

 

 

 

There was plenty of leg room on the Lisa Marie luxury liner. The couches and chairs were plastic wrapped for their protection from the public, as well as his bed. And oh what a bed. Would you expect anything less than a blue suede bed for the the man who sang about blue suede shoes?

Blue, blue, blue suede bed

Blue, blue, blue suede bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend whose young daughter, Zoe, who was the same age I was when I first fell for the King had just discovered him and wanted to know if it was true Elvis had died on the toilet as she’d heard. I told her I didn’t ask but I did get her a photo of his bathroom on the plane.

A leather padded throne fit for a King

A leather padded throne fit for a King in the on board bathroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to tour Graceland you take a shuttle bus you board across the street where you are given a headset device which talks you through the home, room by room, and throughout the total Elvis experience. It was lightly raining that day (or was it the angels shedding tears for the King?) as we drove through the gates and up the driveway to the entrance, decked out with lion statues, naturally.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

lion

A noble lion king for the King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was surprising was how in comparison to today’s celebrity homes and suped up cribs of those with lifestyles of the rich and famous how much smaller Graceland is than I had imagined, but what was lacking in size was made up for in the grandeur of decadence as only Elvis could do. Upon entering the residence you are greeted by one of 3 nearby chandeliers. chandelier hall
Off to your right is the peacock themed living room housing a 15 foot couch and a grand piano in the adjoining room reminding you of the music that built this palace.

Pretty as a peacock

Pretty as a peacock

That is one long lounge

That is one long lounge

Art featuring the artist

Art featuring the artist

Dear ol' mom and dad

Dear ol’ mom and dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The upstairs is off limits, as Elvis preferred his privacy and out of respect for that (and for the fact that may very well be where the bathroom is that he passed) you are kept to the first floor and below. (Sorry, Zoe, I couldn’t get close enough to find out.)

The bedroom his parents stayed in is on display just down the hall.parents

 

 

 

 

 

The one love Elvis and I share is for TV, and he loved to have one in almost every room, including his formal dining room.
tv

 

Gourmet peanut butter and banana sandwiches, anyone?

Gourmet peanut butter and banana sandwiches, anyone?

 

 

 

 

As Lisa Marie informs us on our recorded headset presentation the kitchen was the central core of the home with ’round the clock meals thanks to there being so many guests and friends over and was a favorite hangout area and has been left intact as it last was actively used and decorated in its current 70′s tone. It was rather homey vs. luxe, and there is a TV there too.

Order up

Order up

 

 

 

 

 

 

And speaking of TV, again, next up is the downstairs, where you descend a mirrored wall staircase to discover Elvis’ triple threat of 3 TVs on a wall, which we’re told he had airing the 3 different networks at the same time so he could keep up with what was going on just like world leaders and newsmen of that day as he’d heard. Decorating another wall of that room is a lightning bolt, an image he became associated with during the 70′s and liked to have emblazoned on items and clothing. The monkey sculpture is funky and strangely makes sense in that setting.

3 TVs are better than 1

3 TVs are better than 1

Bam!

Bam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pool table in the adjoining room, where the walls are covered in cloth vs. paper, still has a tear on the tabletop where one of his buddies messed up a challenging pool shot as he tried to shark the King.

rip tear by the far back right pocket

Rip tear by the far back right pocket

Oh so quilty

Oh so quilty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you ascend back up another staircase you encounter the jungle, or rather another popular hang out room and recording space, The Jungle Room. Complete with tropical wood carved furniture, a waterfall wall, animal prints and the ever classic floor to ceiling green shag carpeting, it was inspired by Hawaii, one of Elvis’ favorite vacation spots. Talk about a man cave, this is about as groovy as they get.

Welcome to the jungle, baby

Welcome to the jungle, baby

A "wild" room

A “wild” room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just outside is a brick enclosed space once used as a smokehouse by his dad, Vernon, and then later converted into a firing range so the King could get off some shots.

Smokin'!

Smokin’!

Bang bang!

Bang bang!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with his passion for karate Elvis also took up a love of racquetball and oversaw the building of his own personal court and leisure space, including a piano, for that pastime.

Fun and games

Fun and games

Personalized space

Personalized space

The piano he last played before he passed

The piano he last played before he passed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The court has now been converted into a space to showcase his performance wardrobe and several of his many awards.

It's the suits that made this man in his later performances

It’s the suits that made this man in his later performances

Stylin'

Stylin’

Best dressed

Best dressed

A wall of accolades

A wall of accolades

Another whole room on the premises, The Hall of Gold, has been built to house the King’s gold, his extensive gold record collection and other outfits that marked his well lived life, including his wedding attire and his G.I. uniform.

The Holy Grail Hall

The Holy Grail Hall

Give it up for Heartbreak Hotel

Give it up for Heartbreak Hotel

Here comes the bride

Here comes the bride

Paisley for Groom Presley

Paisley for Groom Presley

He had those hup, two, three, four occupation G.I. Blues

He had those hup, two, three, four occupation G.I. Blues

 

 

Presley enjoyed a little poolside time and an area to relax with the Meditation Garden right next to it. Today fans can pay their last respects to where the King now rests alongside his parents.

Splish splash

Splish splash

Med Garden

A tranquil setting

A tranquil setting

Long live the King

Long live the King

An eternal flame for an eternal talent

An eternal flame for an eternal talent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elvis has left the building

Elvis has left the building

Last stop on my tour was the Elvis Presley Automoblie Museum.
Quite a roomful of classic cars.
Rolls
cool car
Purple

Priscilla's sweet ride

Priscilla’s sweet ride

Now that's a classic car

Now that’s a classic car, and for his mom. What a sweet mama’s boy.

Elvis' car he last drove through the gates of Graceland

Elvis’ car he last drove through the gates of Graceland

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of that Graceland gawking it was time to go get me some good eats. As I was in Memphis there was only one thing on my menu: some good ol’ Memphis barbecue! And luckily just down the road was a sweet spot to go get some.

I pulled up to Marlowe’s Ribs and Restaurant.
Just look for the Pink Pig and you’ve found it.

Oink oink

Oink oink

 

 

 

 

If you’d like, they’ll even give you a little Southern hospitality via their VIP service and pick you up in one of their pink limos.

VIP, the P is for pink

VIP, the P is for pink

 

 

 

 

 

I opted for their pink drink, called the Pink Cadillac of course. As you can see, even Elvis is a fan.

Pretty in pink, even better to drink

Pretty in pink, even better to drink

With its Elvis-themed kitsch adorning the place, in case you didn’t get enough at the Graceland gift shop, Marlowe’s is a tourist’s delight, but that doesn’t take a thing away from its BBQ. In fact I was in for a tasty treat, and award winning at that. The scent of rich smoky goodness envelops you as you walk through the doors courtesy of the barbecue pit in the kitchen.

I ordered the 2 entree combo plate featuring my two BBQ favorites: ribs and pulled pork, accompanied by coleslaw and corn fritters and the most delightful fried bread concoction. At first I thought they were just larger corn fritters but they turned out to be dinner rolls, if you deep fried them like a donut, lightly crispy on the outside but with soft warm delicious bread baked inside. I’m more of a sauce gal vs. a dry rub when it comes to my meat but they feature both and I was not let down. My plate came served up with some of the best sauce that has smacked past these lips. Their sweet tender pulled pork was a delight and the ribs had a deep dense smoke flavor that went beyond the pit and straight on into the bones themselves. I’ve never tasted anything so smoked through and through and it could darn well set off a smoke detector if it too had a tongue to take a taste.

Mmm mmm Memphis BBQ

Mmm mmm Memphis BBQ

A little somethin' on the side

A little somethin’ on the side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With my belly blessed with some BBQ and my everything Elvis experience checked off my list I hopped back in my Honda, as no King ever got me a plane or a personalized Mercedes, but Memphis had loved me tender and it was time to hit the road.

-Sara
Elvis sign

Tombstone: The Town Too COOL to Die

IMG_2628Last year, Sara and I went to the Travel and Adventure Show in Long Beach. There were booths with Tourism Bureaus and tour companies. They encourage travel to their cities and countries. Of course, we want(ed) to go everywhere, but that day, Arizona won. We set off a few days later without any agenda.

At one point, we realized that Tombstone is in Arizona. I probably squealed. Sara probably squealed. Lots of squealing. We couldn’t get there in one night so we stopped in Tucson and found a nice quiet hotel far from the downtown area. We ate at some sandwich shop that Sara had seen on a food show. They have a huge sandwich that is free if you eat the whole thing in a certain amount of time and don’t throw it up. MMMM
We did not eat that sandwich.

Hello, Tombstone!

Hello, Tombstone!


So, we got to Tombstone and we just freaked out for it. Fricken WYATT EARP was there!! WYATT! EARP! DOC HOLLIDAY! I’ve been to ghost towns and historical places, but some resonate with me more than others. This was one of those places. So, we HAD to see the “shoot out” at the OK Corral.
Grrr  Don't mess with me, buddy!

Grrr
Don’t mess with me, buddy!

There are several shows a day. Luckily, we got there in time to catch the last show of the day. We saw the players walking down Allen Street to the OK Corral. Doc tipped his hat at Sara (which made her SWOON.) We were so sold. We watched the gunfight. Re-enactments are so cheesy, but I LOVE them. We waltzed into the OK Corral, site of the famous gunfight, and grabbed our tickets to the show.

I knew the basic story, but the shoot out sorta confused me.
We watched it. Then got pictures with the Gunfighters and took advantage

Oh Yes!

Oh Yes!

of some other dorky photo opps.IMG_2640 We had not planned on spending the night but as we ate dinner at Big Nose Kate’s, we realized we HAD to spend the night in this town.

Here is a thing about Sara that always cracks me up. She yelps everywhere we go. We were once in Bufu, Idaho and she tried to Yelp a place to eat. We stopped at a divey bar/restaurant and she said “There are no reviews.” Well.. Of course there weren’t. People there probably did not know what Yelp IS. The people at the tables around us were all discussing people they knew in prison. It was that kinda place. But, I digress. This particular night, Sara’s Yelping was just fantastic. She was lying in her bed at the hotel and found Doc Holliday’s Saloon. A reviewer mentioned that, sometimes, the actors from the shootout went to the bar, dressed as their character. That was all she needed to see. As soon as we walked in, I started talking to a man named Jim. Everything he said was interesting. And then I babbled “Blahblah Blah blah..” Paused for a new drink. Jim and I talked for a while longer. Then he told me he hosts karaoke, but not usually on that night. He asked the owner (or manager) if he could whip out his equipment and do a karaoke night right then. I have had myself a few karaoke nights in LA. It’s not a big thing. Just some crappy speakers and a monitor. Honestly, I did not expect much from someone in a small town. BOY, was I wrong. Jim starts to unload and set up. It was like the Transformers. Holy crap! Big ole monitors. All hi-tech and shit. Everything was set up pretty quickly and suddenly I became Miss MC. Now, he IS the Karaoke guy in Tombstone (and maybe other towns. I can’t recall.) but I like to think that it was extra magical because I was there. Yea. I used the word magical.

I grabbed a mic and had people sing with me, brought the music books around, and made sure to remind everyone to tip. Hope he made a lot of tips that night! I sang my little heart out. Unfortunately, there is video and it actually sounds like I am spitting my heart out. Not good. At least I know where it is. : )
We loved every minute of it. So so so glad Sara found that place and so glad we met Jim.
You are just DYING to know if Doc and Wyatt were there. Aren’t you?
No. Damnit. No. They were not.

The next morning, Sara and I wanted to walk around a bit more. There is a place with old timey guns you can shoot (that shoot paint) so naturally, we had to do that. People came up to us and made comments about the night before. (Apparently, we were really fun.) We would look at people with blank stares. No recollection of meeting them or interacting with them. Very grateful we were well behaved.

So, we ate. We shot the old timey guns. And we avoided the actors on the streets trying to get us to see other re-enactments. Ultimately and reluctantly, we left. Sedona was on our radar. We were only stopped once by Immigration agents; asking from where we were coming. Tombstone is really close to the Mexican border. Since we were not hiding anyone in our dashboard, we went on our way.

. . .or were we?

I am very pleased with my purchase of Wyatt Earp’s autobiography from the OK Corral gift shop. I love stories about cowboys and western history. Everyone wants their own version of history to be told, despite how bullshit their version was/is. But, I think it’s fantastic. I can’t wait until it is time to read Wyatt’s version of his life. I don’t care if it’s bullcrap. It’s Wyatt. And Wyatt is good with me!

Later,
Jenn

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Montana: Land of Big Sky… and Little People!

First off, let me assure you there are plenty of big people (medium too) with big hearts in Montana. In fact we enjoy this state so much Jenn and I made sure to make another visit on this trip.  But what we encountered this time around, instead of ghost towns and the site of an historical hanging, were actual little people, or rather midgets. Don’t get mad at me, I know the proper PC term to use and being tall myself I am sensitive to height issues, but according to the flyers at the local bar where they were set to perform they were advertised as “midgets”.  Now our friend Paul, upon seeing the photos we posted on Facebook, commented that they appeared to technically be dwarves, but I digress.  I’ll get to that event shortly, no pun intended. Back to Montana!

 

 

 

 

 

Upon arrival to Bozeman, we two weary road travelers were greeted by our good friend and host, Maria, with shots of tequila lined up and ready to go down the hatch as we dropped our bags at the door and entered her kitchen. Now that’s a way to greet your guests. We soon switched to wine and chatted away the evening on her patio catching up, all the while as I pet and reconnected with my official roadtrip boyfriend, Fernando.

Fernando mi amor

 

 

 

 

He’s loyal, he’s warm, he’s furry, and oh that face!

 

The next day we enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine on the patio of The Club Tavern and Grill for brunch with Maria and our friend Bob. Bloody Marys and gravy smothered chicken fried steak were on the menu so they made their way to our table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that’s a hearty meal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that day we made our way with Maria and Fernando to spend the afternoon at the river. As we sipped iced tea cocktails on the banks Maria warned us the area was also home to a nearby hunting ground. Fortunately the only danger we encountered was the chill of the water as we waded in to cool off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That night was the big event: Extreme Midget Wrestling. Maria’s roommate Jeff had informed us of it when we arrived and there was no way we were going to miss it. Simply for the opportunity to witness that such a thing truly exists.  On the way back from the river we stopped by The Belgrade Lounge to get our tickets. Apparently a lot of other people had to witness this too as they were selling out fast.  And that’s when we met one of the main men of the main event, midget wrestler Rampage.

Don’t be fooled by his sweet demeanor or our cackling (shocked) laughs. This shot was taken right after he got grabby hands.

Again, I would normally and properly say little person, except after he asked if we wanted to take a photo with him and then he grabbed our asses just as it was taken, I get to call him a midget.

When we returned that night we discovered the midget wrestling was the least of the more memorable moments to be had. Among them: Jell-O shots, guys wearing wigs (these were the audience members not the performers, er, I mean athletes), drunk girls getting mad at me, a dance-off competition where the winner got to grind a midget and being caught in the middle of a bar fight. A chick fight bar fight at that.

To quickly recap: Drunk girl, or “drunky drunk girl” as Jenn dubbed her, one moment was telling me I needed to wear my part differently and started restyling my hair and the next got upset by something she did or said yet somehow got mad at me for and for the rest of the night glared at me. Remember the character Drunk Girl from SNL?  She was like that. Her moods turned on a dime. Later that evening I found her out in the parking lot stumbling around and venting about some new issue as Rampage escorted her back to the bar. He appeared chivalrous in his action, but I can’t speak for his hands. Then there were the girls Jenn overheard in the bathroom who were upset that they didn’t win the dance contest. Following the first half of the wrestling event the show took a break so the emcee could invite the ladies in the house up to take part in a dance contest. The contest was called Grind A Midget. Yes I said, and saw with my very own eyes, Grind A Midget. Jenn and I declined but several other young ladies did not and jumped right into that ring. After the #1 grinder was decided, the “winner” then got to lie down in the wrestling ring as Rampage sort of climbed on top of her, flipped her over and grinded her as the crowd cheered. At least that’s the blur of what I last remember burning into my retinas when I finally put the camera down and went in search of Jenn.

Gather round boys and girls, it’s Grind A Midget time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we have a winner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead that’s when I walked directly into a bar fight. And a chick fight at that, my first one! A girl appeared to suddenly stumble and fall onto my foot. I assumed she tripped due to the crowd and as I reached down to help her up I suddenly caught sight of a gaggle of other girls leaping from their seats at a raised bar area nearby and charging our way. Turns out the leader of the pack had shoved the girl on the ground and they were ready to pounce while she was down. Now I’m a lover not a fighter so I froze, but luckily, like a scene out of The Jerry Springer Show, guys in shirts marked “Security” swarmed in.

Settle down everybody, his shirt says Security.

 

 

 

 

They managed to pull them apart and subdue the scene, momentarily, because next thing I knew a guy wearing a wig got into a new fight right next to me. There was a group of guys wearing wigs that night. (At this point in the evening why wouldn’t that make sense?) His wig flew off and once again security flew in. By then I found Jenn and the two of us decided to take flight as well and called it a night.

But we had more than a few laughs, and since, recounting it all.
Just another reason to hit the road. You never know what you’ll find out there.

-Sara

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Being Mostly Good in the Badlands

 

Click this picture to enlarge it. It’s incredible!

We got to the Badlands too late to visit for the day, so we spent the night in Wall, South Dakota.  We checked out the town before we settled in because, apparently, small towns must now fit some criteria for us to actually spend the night. One bar/restaurant was mostly empty and the bartender didn’t seem very enthused about us possibly spending time there. There was another place a few storefronts away that seemed to have younger people in it, so Wall, it was.

Our hotel, Best Western Plains had a pool and hot tub. I am always excited when hotels have these amenities, but rarely use them.   A few years ago, in Red Lodge, Montana, I

The view from our room.

was shrieking with excitement about a hot tub in my room. However, by the time I ate and returned to it,  I was completely exhausted. Didn’t care. Filled the tub with water and forced myself to sit in it for a while like I was punishing myself.  Sara and I really thought we’d eat and come back and enjoy the water, but we never got to enjoy the water.

We went to eat and hang at the restaurant with the younger people in it.  As we chowed down, 2 locals kept sitting and talking to us.   They were nice enough, so we obliged. I swear one of the guys was missing his front teeth. The other guy was really drunk and told Sara about how he used to be an alcoholic but wasn’t anymore. They wanted us to play pool. In our heads, we are pool sharks, but in reality we suck. Luckily for us, they were drunk and didn’t seem to notice much. One of them started rubbing himself on my leg, so Sara and I took that as our cue to ditch them STAT.

So that happened.

The next day, we got up nice and early to see the Badlands.  Va Va Voom! That is some seriously stunning scenery.  It used to be a salt water sea. As the water disappeared… the Badlands began.

There is a loop (Highway 240 Loop)  that takes about an hour to drive, with plenty of places to pull over to enjoy the sites.  There are hikes, too, but we opted out since we had a bit of a deadline to make. Hiking is a must do for the next trip here.

We saw Bighorn Sheep!! 

But, we didn’t see bison, porcupines, bobcats,

or Prairie Dogs.    Fortunately, I guess.

 

 

Then there was this…

 

 

 

I had always wanted to see the Badlands. Just the name alone is cool. Seeing it while on a road trip made it even better.

But.. wait.. there is more!

As you drive towards the Badlands, you will pass like 800 million signs for Wall Drug. It sounded like Disneyland! Except.. a Disneyland that I would like! Lookie!

We went inside Wall Drug and all of it’s gloriousness (which is TOTALLY a word so shush you!)

 

 

A gift that keeps giving….

 

There are attractions that were closed by the time we got there. The Badlands Loop ends an hour East, so we were not able to return to Wall Drug to enjoy them.

 

On our way towards our next destination, we finally ran into some bison at Al’s Oasis. Yipee!

Grrr
Don’t mess with me, Missy

 

Bison Whisperer

 

 

 

 

 

Badlands Jenn

An Encounter With Dinosaurs and an Old Buzzard

Putting our best feet forward

Day 1 of our epic cross country adventure- This trip we left from LA, heading East as I would eventually drop off Jenn in Chicago for a visit with her fam before I headed on to friends in Massachusetts. With previous trips that started out as a 4 day excursion but wound up with us still on the road 2 weeks later roaming and discovering where we might end up next, we were well prepped for these travels.

It’s so big

First up, the world’s tallest thermometer located in Baker, the Gateway to Death Valley, because if you can’t find a ball of string big enough in these parts a thermometer embodying all that is grand about Americana culture will do.

Next stop, Las Vegas. Leave it to us to treat Sin City as a pit stop and a place to “do lunch”, but we needed to refuel, which we did at The PBR Rockbar on the strip.

We took the bull by the horns at Rockbar

 

 

 

We didn’t need to dance ‘til dawn this time around- been there, done that a dozen times – although we did miss our usual poolside service with cocktails topped off with toasted coconut at The Cosmopolitan, but this day we dined outdoors, beneath its looming exterior, remembering its glistening chandeliers, at the appropriately named The Chandelier bar and morning-after recovery brunches at Wicked Spoon, which we were wickedly tempted to try again, but were more than satisfied by our bold bar food selections and our sidewalk patio setting, watching the variety of people Vegas has to offer on display passing by. We skipped drinking PBR’s and stuck with root beers as it was back on the road for us following our meal.

The next test for us was to pass through the Valley of Fire without being burned. No problem for these two pros as we safely entered Utah, but only temporarily were we secure, for next up was an unexpected encounter with dinosaurs!

 

 

 

 

Run, Sara, run!

The Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in St. George. Containing some of the best preserved tracks and fossils, which were discovered during a real estate project to level some land, and dating back more than 195 million years, this gem is a true Jurassic Park to treasure, and just as much fun for us to be let loose in.

That dinosaur sure is lucky it was protected from Jenn by that glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaver would be where we would settle that first night, but not before we let off a little restless energy at Renegade Lounge.

What lies beyond the red door?

This one stoplight town, and one bar, thanks to some sort of grandfather clause, as told to us the last time we were there by the guy whose grandfather owned the place, is the local hot spot. That’s right, this wasn’t our first time in these parts and served as a familiar go-to drinking hole, as it did for the other patrons passing through or seasonal workers stationed there.  As soon as we arrived, Toto, we realized we weren’t in Los Angeles anymore. A group of friendly guys chatted us up, invited us to join them, bought us drinks and even offered up the delivery pizza they had at their table. (Those looking for a light bite can help themselves to the popcorn machine on the bar top.) Not one asked us if we were in the biz, or even what biz for that matter. There was simply actual human interaction and conversation taking place. And they were ever so much more interesting than any A-list celebs I’ve met.  These guys weren’t just delightfully social, turns out they were death defying. I’ve had my share of crappy day jobs, from working for a pent up office manager who wanted me to decorate all of her binders with pretty patterns of wallpaper cover sheets and stylish font styles when labeling them to a high powered portfolio manager with unmanaged anger, who couldn’t make eye contact but could scream at you from down the hall and an office away. His former assistant quit in tears. I stuck it out amused by his issues. But unlike our new acquaintances, I had never risked my life by going below ground, surrounded by deadly gas at a geothermal plant drilling for hot water. Cade, who had tempted us to their table with cheesy bread and dipping sauce accompanying the pizza, (yeah, we’re very high-end and hard-to-get when we’re on the road) showed us video of them on his camera phone suiting up in tactical gear and gas masks as they prepped for their next shift. And I thought my ill-fitting tuxedo pants I got at a thrift store for my uniform during my catering days were bad. I just had to make sure I had my comfortable shoes and a wine opener on hand versus hoping I didn’t inhale anything toxic in order to make it through a shift.

Old Buzzard and Funny Shit sharing a laugh

We shared tales of cheating death and our taste for adventure. The crew was as colorful as their job description. Hector and AJ restocked the rounds as I was introduced to their boss man they affectionately called “The Old Buzzard”. He in turn nicknamed me “Funny Shit” as I made him laugh. He then tried to make me dance. Boys on the road, especially in the West, sure do like and look for any opportunity to two-step.  We both soon learned I do not, and really can’t. The Old Buzzard who had suffered his share of challenges as a former bronco rider on the rodeo circuit, including a broken hip that caused him to limp, soon gave up on me declaring after a turn on the dance floor, “You keep leading. You don’t know how to follow!” Such is the curse, or benefit, depending on your dance partner, of being an independent woman. We returned to our stools and swapped stories of adrenaline rushing activities we enjoyed. I told him how I had jumped out of an airplane, he told me to top that I needed to ride a bull.

So you think you can dance?

He then took Jenn for a spin and got her to two-stepping after she had wrapped up a freestyle session blowing it out with Cade in a dance-off below the pulsating disco lights.

 

 

 

 

 

Swing your partner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired from the day’s long drive we took our bows for the night and trekked back to our hotel, the Best Western Butch Cassidy Inn, where we had comfortable beds waiting and a complimentary breakfast the next day before hitting the road, well rested and refreshed for the journey ahead.

Vroom, vroom!
-Sara

© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright