Sunday, May 29, 2016


Creation of Chef Giovanni at the Harmony Cafe at the Pewter Plough-Main Street in Cambria
   Summer Fun Time as the old Top 40 and Rock Radio jingles used to cheer. Memorial day signaled a nod to summer hedonism-pools, picnics, vacations, patio parties, longer days and more sunshine.
    In Indiana summer began only after "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indianapolis 500.  As a Muncie youth I put a transistor radio on my handle bars and made seemingly endless loops of a half mile route around a few blocks in my neighborhood near the Ball Brothers plant listening to the "Voice of the 500" Sid Collins.  Later we would gather my grandmother and great aunts and "decorate" the graves of departed family members. That senior generation always referred to it as "Decoration Day." That day also included grilling, hot dogs and hamburgers. It was the 1950's, our future was before us, everything was possible and life was good.  
     Years later I would work as a colleague with Sid Collins and even cover the legendary Brickyard. I was never at the track nor can I watch coverage without thinking back to those years when summer began as I raced by bike from South Ebright Street. 
     Hope you have a wonderful summer, full of the stuff of youth.
For Exotic Lovers Only
    The Annual Succulent and Cactus Show in San Luis Obispo is another signal summer is here.  

 See you down the trail.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


    It was chilling, prompting a sense of foreboding.
    "Get 'em outta here!  Get 'em outta here!" commanded Donald Trump at a recent rally beset by protestors. Trump had been bragging that he would claim "40%" of Sanders voters when the clamor began.
     There are smarter and elder political analysts and journalists but I have not seen a more viscerally divisive presidential candidate since George Wallace, who's campaigns I covered and who I interviewed. It is odd to write this, but Wallace was eminently more qualified than Donald Trump. Wallace was a self admitted segregationist. He was a racist and a hate monger. Trump is worse. He has no policy positions, no electoral or government experience, is fueled by  ego, rides a wave of anger and appeals to the worst in America.
       An important message to the nation was sent by 450 of our top writers.You can link here to read their open letter to the American people. While I think Trump is a danger to the Republic in many ways he is also like the canary in the coal mine, a warning of sorts.
      American politics is broken and people are rightfully angry. Our wrath should be directed at the big money that has turned politicians into whores. We should be furious with the increasingly selfish nature of those who lobby and who have turned government into commerce. A loud mouth and insensitive sexist, racist, ego freak with no government experience and an appalling lack of familiarity with international complexity and who is a bully is not the way to change what infects us.
      Why do you think we have become a nation with so much fear, anger, selfishness and with a lack of a desire for common good? Why are people taking to Trump? 
      As you ponder and respond, take a moment to consider what some of our brightest have said. The warnings are becoming more numerous.

    Every time we drive the majestic Highway 1 we marvel at the engineering that produced the road with spectacular views including here in the Big Sur area.
    Highway cuts, switchbacks and  bridges--there are natural challenges to keeping traffic moving. The frame below is a recent overhead look at what locals call Rain Rocks. 
   This is an area that frequently was closed, due to slides of the mountain onto the narrow patch of the Pacific Coast Highway.
  You can see how the tunnel like structure is built into the mountain and shelters the road from boulders and rocks that  litter the roof.
   It is an amazing structure and engineering masterpiece that we watched be pieced together over the last 4 years. 

   The previous frames speak to the massive size of the structure. But in the frame below it dwarfs into just one more pass on an extraordinary road.

    See you down the trail.

Monday, May 23, 2016


     Since the first reading of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, palm trees have had a special place in my heart, symbolic of something exotic.
      They represented escape from the Indiana landscape of my youth.  In time palm trees became synonymous with vacation retreat, away from snow, ice and gray.
  Years later there is still a special pleasure evoked by lounging under palms.
  Places with palm trees also provide natural color.

Race in America
A Failing Grade
     Segregation in America is getting worse according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. The GAO report find the number of racially and financially segregated schools has doubled in the last 13 years.
      The report finds that 61% of schools with high concentrations of poor students were racially segregated-schools that were at least three quarters black or Latino.
      The US Secretary of Education says fixing it must be a priority.
      This finding on top of the growing economic disparity in the US speaks legions about the ineffective response to what is a dangerous fault line in the American body politic.

Celebration of the Mediterranean spirit

Food and wine pairings are special. Stolo Family Vineyards in Cambria features a great barrel room tasting. 
   Le Vigne in the Paso Robles Appellation saluted Wine Festival Weekend with a charming dinner. 

  Vineyards abound in beauty.
   Between palm trees and vineyards, life provides good reason to say Cheers!

   See you down the trail.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Desert Blooms
    Lana said she had waited most of her life to see a saguaro cactus bloom.
   In the stretch from Phoenix to Prescott Valley and Sedona  the desert scrub is populated by the massive uprights and spears.
   Closer examination of these saguaro, that can age to 2 centuries, revealed blooms. Blossoms appear only when a cactus is at least 35 years. They grow their first arm at between 75 and 100 years.

   The blooms are short-lived and open at night during spring. The saguaro blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona.
  Other worldly and exotic they are native of the Sonoran desert in Mexico and Arizona, the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County area of California. In Arizona it is against the law to harm a saguaro.

Wheel to Wheel on the Pacific Coast Highway
    The Amgen Tour of California raced past Cambria in Stage 4-Morro Bay to Monterey-on the famed Highway 1.
   The lead of the pack as they approached the south edge of Cambria having just come up a long hill.
    Immediately the racers began to use the level stretch for changing positions.

    Just as rapidly they were past the first access to Cambria and on the way toward San Simeon, Ragged Point, Big Sur and Monterey at speeds of 25 to 35 mph. 
       Here they are just a few miles into a 133 mile stage.
    The Amgen Tour of California finishes in Sacramento.

    This may feel like a kick in the head. Oxfam America recently published a study that reveals for every dollar America's largest companies paid in federal taxes from 2008 to 2014 they got back $27 in loans, guarantees and bailout funds from the Federal Government. Once more--the top 50 American corporations pay a dollar in taxes and get back $27. Is that the kind of tax plan you are on?
      Oxfam reports that for every dollar spent on lobbying by the largest corporations they get $130 in tax breaks and $4,000 in federal loans and guarantees.
      Ray Offenheiser, President of Oxfam, says, "The global economic system is becoming increasingly rigged." Oxfam is a federation of groups working on poverty and economic disadvantage in some 90 nations. They've been a respected player since the 1940's.
      Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times writes that a recent study found that tax dodging by major corporations "costs the US Treasury up to $111 billion a year."  Imagine the infrastructure repair, increase in pay and benefits to police, fire and veterans and improvements to schools and teacher training and pay that could be accomplished.  Kristof notes that since 1952 the share of corporate taxation in federal revenue has declined from 32% to 11%, but as you know from your own paystubs the portion of payroll taxes has increased. 
      To paraphrase Shakespeare-Something is rotten and this time it is not in Denmark.

      See you down the trail.