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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Travel Tunes - Week 20

We've reached the second 10 songs in the series so the list for these songs are at the bottom.  Follow the links and you can make your own mix for your iPod or other brand-name MP3 device.  There's also a link to a list of the first 10...that's 20 hand-picked songs to pass the time with in the car or on the plane.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Steve Alexander under CC-BY-SA license
This week's tune features a repeat performance by the Eagles from their Hell Freezes Over concert.  With the Eagles, you get four great song writers and four great singers.  The main body of work comes from drummer Don Henley and guitarist Glenn Frey, and sometimes the two collaborate as they did with this week's tune.  Joe Walsh is next with several entries such as Pretty Maids All In A Row and In The City.  Timothy B. Schmidt, with his high voice, throws his efforts in there too with songs like I Can't Tell You Why.

In honor of this week's Cocktail Hour, we present Tequila Sunrise from the album Desperado.
The song vaguely hints at an Eagles specialty, a guy with a girl well past his station in life trying to hold on to that tenuous relationship.  The song was writting by Henley and Frey after a night of drinking tequila and came together when the sun came up.  It's a smooth, kind of deserty feeling song that is perfect for that drive to the Grand Canyon...try it, you'll see!

The video is from the Hell Freezes Over PBS special with Glenn Frey doing the singing, enjoy!

Here's The World on Wheels second Top 10 List of Travel Tunes....

20. Tequila Sunrise - the Eagles (above)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

BLOOMS AND BIRDS - 3-28

What a gorgeous day here in the foothills! It's 82 degrees, sunny, and extremely clear. The hillsides...an emerald green last week...are just starting to show a hint of yellow this week.
Not a whole lot of birds this week, just 21 species this week, the star of the show continues to be the hooded oriole which finally came close enough for a picture. Above, you can see a couple of males on the hummingbird feeder my wife hung up in the guava tree while another watches from above.
We have two varieties of lantern vines, both are irresistable to the hummingbirds.
In the vegetable garden, everything's sprouting.  Above are the zucchinis with the carrots and the corn behind them.  Another close up of the corn is to the right.
The orange blossoms are open and the smell is incredible.  It attracts a lot of bees though.
It looks like we're going to have a very good crop of grapes this year.

"Julie Newmar" is busting out all over in the front yard rose garden.
This pink rose is also in the front...
as is this yellow one...
this other pink bloom...
and this miniature rose.
Out back is "Moonstone,"
..."Double Delight,"
...and another bloom just opening up on "Mr. Lincoln."
For the orchids, this epidendrum is now open...
...and the bletilla is blooming all over the place.
This hanging dendrobium will be quite spectacular when it opens in a couple of weeks,
but this impatiens is not waiting.

And that's it from an outstandingly beautiful day in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills.  Probably the peak of the season.

-Darryl

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Travel Tunes - Week 19

In light of our trip report to Kennedy Space Center, we're going way out there in our musical travels this week.  It was 1969, man was going to the moon, 2001: A Space Oddessey was in theaters, and I was just getting into buying records...45s.  Remember them?  This is one of the first records I bought.

I also remember staying up all night to watch the moon landing.  If you weren't around then, let me assure you...it was a huge deal at the time.  It was akin to watching Columbus land on Hispaniola, live on TV.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Elmar J. Lordemann under CC-BY-SA license
So, David Bowie had catchy tune and was just signed to a new record label.  Fortunately, the record label execs knew a marketing opportunity when they saw one and released his Space Oddity to coincide with the moon landing.  This song, about a journey we probably never want to take (the hero is lost in space forever), catupulted Bowie to stardom and launched the story of the fictional astronaut, Major Tom, that would be visited again by Bowie in two more songs, the brilliant Ashes To Ashes and Hallo Spaceboy.  Peter Schilling also sang about Major Tom as did Def Leppard and others.

What follows is the story of Major Tom being blasted into space and, of course, we have a problem and end the song with the controller calling over and over "can you hear me, Major Tom?"  You've probably heard it but it's still good.  If you haven't, you're in for a treat.  Here's David Bowie and Space Oddity...

EMI doesn't allow embedding, but you might also want to check out one of the all-time great music videos of the sequel, Ashes to Ashes here...Ashes to Ashes video.
-Darryl

Sunday, March 21, 2010

BIRD REPORT - Mar. 22, 2010

Some Items Needed for Birdwatching:
Bird Guide, A Checklist for Local Birds, and a Cold Adult Beverage
Today, we had 26 species show up on the patio-27 if you count the barn swallow I think I saw, but Letty doesn't think so.  Newcomers included the spotted towhee, who we've been hearing for a couple of weeks but only saw today, and the hooded oriole, who we first spotted during the week.  Neither got close enough for a picture but I tried with the oriole (see below).  The oriole is usually shy around us then they first show up but get increasingly brave as the season moves along.  Hopefully we'll have some good pictures soon.  A family of bushtits is also making a nest in the oak tree behind our house.  They move so quick, it's hard to get a picture.
An Epidendrum Orchid About to Open
A couple of more orchids are about to bloom.
Bletilla Orchids Almost Open
It's warmed up quite a bit to 84 degrees, not as hot as the 90 predicted, but the insects are starting to come out and bug us.  That also means the fly catchers and lizards are going to be busy.  We saw several today. 
Not a whole lot of raptors today like we had last week.
Our Meyer Lemon About to Bloom
Here's the complete bird list:
black phoebe
bushtit
crow
goldfinch
red tail hawk
red shouldered  hawk
house finch
hooded oriole
Allen's hummingbird
Anna's humminbird
mallard duck
mockingbird
mourning dove
pigeon (rock dove)
green parrot
raven
scrub jay
starling
tree swallow
barn swallow (?)
titmouse
california towhee
spotted towhee
vulture
white crowned sparrow
acorns woodpecker
yellow-rumped warbler

-Darryl

Thursday, March 18, 2010

TRIP PLANNING UPDATE - Staying on Budget

Great American Ballpark, Cincinatti, Ohio
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia; Eric Kilby under CC-BY-SA license
Now that Tim has gotten the basic framework of the trip together (see his latest post here), let's see how it compares to his original budget, which was featured in his Trip Planning 101 -Part 3 post.

AIRFARE
Predicted budget - $975
Actual cost          - $861

Good deal.  And the original deal was to fly into Lousville and rent a car or take a taxi to Cincinnati.  Back when he made the budget, cost to fly into Cincinnati was over $800 per person.  Now, all three of us can go there for that price, plus we save the cost of a car rental or taxi.  Another benefit is that we can fly out of Ontario, which is one of the easiest airports to deal with in the Los Angeles area.  LAX is a nightmare, and Frontier (which was our original airline suggestion) only flies from LAX or Orange County, which is a long drive from home.
New Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia; Kelly Martin under CC-BY-SA license
HOTELS
Predicted budget - $1,130
Actual cost          - $1,328

Going over budget here by $198 but we make that up on airfare and transportation savings (above).  Also, our room reservations are for suites at two locations and a large studio at another.  A lot of room for the money.  All three properties have no penalty cancellation policies with either a two-day notice (Cincinnati) to same day notice.  This gives us a chance to find equivalent rooms at a lower price between now and then.  Plus, all three are booked as accessible rooms.  I'm comfortable with it as it is but will take a discount if Tim can find one.

Tim also managed to get us hotels that are within walking distance to the ballparks in Cincinnati and St. Louis so that again saves us a little money.
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia; ilovemypit under CC-BY license
TRAIN - $78
It looks like we will rent a car instead, price is still to be determined but we will probably pick up a car when we leave Cincinatti and keep it until we go home from Kansas City.

Good job, Tim!

-Darryl

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Travel Tunes - Week 18

Remember the dot com bubble?  We had the Pets.com puppet (because pets can't drive) and homegrocer.com (because Tim can't drive)...I miss Homegrocer, actually.  There was also etoys.com.  Remember them?  Do you remember their theme song?  I do...it's the only thing I bought at their site...the CD featuring it.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is the Hawaiian native that sang that song.  It's actually the classic Over The Rainbow done Hawaiian style with a ukelele with Israel's mourning "ooing" at the beginning that makes it unforgettable.

Kamakawiwo'ole was a huge guy with a beautiful voice.  Weighing in at over 700 pounds, his obesity got the best of him and he passed away at the young age of 38.

On the CD, Over the Rainbow is a medley with What a Wonderful World.  In this week's video, it's just Over the Rainbow.  It's a great rendition of the song and somewhat disturbing that Kamakawiwo'ole couldn't have lived a healthier life...the video ends with his memorial service and his ashes being spread over the ocean.  The song itself evokes a journey to another world...like in Oz...and is a great companion on the road.
Enjoy!

-Darryl

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

TRIP PLANNING 101 - Part 4

NOTE: Tim is in charge of planning our next big trip.  It's a baseball stadium tour working towards his goal of visiting every major league park.  This trip will add three to his already big list.  To catch up and see how this trip has evolved during the planning stage, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3.  Now on to part 4...

Today I bought the plane tickets for our trip. My dad has confirmed that his vacation time was approved so now we start to nail everything down. I went online and did a search at Expedia, Southwest, and Frontier. The closest Southwest came to Cincinnati was Columbus. Frontier went to Dayton. But I found a flight right to Cincinnati for less on Expedia, on Continental connecting through Houston.


The flight home was just a little bit cheaper on Southwest from Kansas City, but since Southwest doesn’t charge baggage fees, we’ll save around $100 for the entire flight cost plus, since we board first, we should be able to get bulkhead seats coming home. We will be leaving from Ontario, California…which is a much easier airport than LAX.

Entire flight cost is $861, including taxes, for three people. We already booked seats together for the Continental flights.  Both sites, Southwest and Expedia, let you arrange for your aisle chair and transfer online.

Now it’s time to book the hotels. The best room for the best price I could find in Cincinatti was the Comfort Suites at $131 per night a little less than a mile from the ballpark. It's a wheelchair accessible studio with a king bed and sofabed.  I booked it. It has no cancellation fees if cancelled at least 1 day prior to arrival.

I found a 2-room suite at the Drury Inn in St. Louis next to the arch for $157 per night. Finally, in Kansas City I booked the Residence Inn by Marriott near downtown. Both of these hotels let you cancel with no penalty up until the day of arrival and both are also accessible suites.

Now that we’re guaranteed rooms, I can keep a lookout for lower rates and if I find them, cancel the original reservations to save money.

We’re now good with air tickets and hotel reservations. Next up, need to find a rental car to drive from Cincinnati to St. Louis…and maybe to Kansas City. Also, I need to get tickets to the games.

-Tim


Thursday, March 11, 2010

ROUTE 66 - More Stories and Info

Want to see some other Route 66 stories and reports?


Candy Harrington's Route 66 report from the Barrier Free Travels blog

Claudia Heller's Route 66 series in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Andrew Wood's Route 66 travelogue and FAQ

-Darryl


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Travel Tunes - Week 17

Of course, for our Route 66 week, you know what's coming...

In 1995, the City of Duarte, California, kicked off its first Route 66 Parade, Car Show, and Community Picnic.  It was the start of a tradition that will celebrate its 15th anniversary later this year in September.

We were at that first parade and I remember that they had the perfect grand marshal.  Bobby Troup was waving to the gathered crowds from the rear deck of a classic automobile, beaming with pride over the legend he helped create.

Mr. Troup is the man responsible for the immortal song, Route 66.  Who doesn't want to get their kicks on this historic stretch of asphault?  Troup spent World War II in the Marine Corp and was the first white commander of a Black unit in Jacksonville, North Carolina.  The men were living in tents.  Troup organized them to build new quarters out of quonset huts, a nightclub, and a basketball court.  This unit soon became the "in" place to hang out on base. 

After the war, Troup came out west to make his way in Hollywood.  His route?  I think you know.  The song came out of that trip with Troup paying homage not only to the road, but to the quirky destinations along the way.

Sadly, Bobby passed on a few years after his turn as the inaugural grand marshall in February of 1999 but his music lives on.

Route 66 has been covered by many musicians.  Nat King Cole, The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Mel Torme are just a few of the dozens of big names to sing it.  This week, we're giving you a two-fer.  First is the song by the man himself, Bobby Troup singing it on his wife Julie London's variety show:
Next, is one of my favorite modern renditions by Depeche Mode :
Enjoy!

-Darryl

Monday, March 8, 2010

WELCOME TO ROUTE 66 WEEK

It's Route 66 Week here at The World on Wheels.  We're going to focus on the Western most section of this highway that is mostly unknown and will also have links to reports on the other sections of the Mother Road.  We have an extended trip report for you, landmarks to watch out for, historic downtowns to visit, not-to-miss places to eat, and...of course...a bit of music to drive by.  By the end of thisweek, you'll have all the information you need to plan a trip to this historic patch of road.  Enjoy!

-Darryl
Duarte Recreational Trail - March 7, 2010
Two blocks north of Route 66 (Huntington Drive)
Duarte, California

Sunday, March 7, 2010

BIRD REPORT - Mar. 7, 2010

No cocktail hour today, we'll return with that next week.  In the meantime, here's this week's bird report.  28 31 32 34 (ties the a new record!) species with 5 raptors.  See some photos at my Facebook page.

Black Phoebe
Bushtit
Bluebird
Cedar Waxwing
Crow
Golden Eagle
Lesser Goldfinch
Cooper's Hawk
Red Tail Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
House Finch
House Sparrow
Allen's Hummingbird
Mallard Duck
Mockingbird
Mourning Dove
Parakeet
Pigeon
Raven
Scrub Jay
Starling
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Vulture
White Crowned Sparrow
Acorn Woodpecker
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pacific Slope Flycatcher
Junco
Robin
Anna's Hummingbird
Rosy Finch
Blackbird

-Darryl

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Travel Tunes - Week 16

Glenn Frey and Don Henley started off in Los Angeles providing backup music for Linda Rondstadt. Soon, they were joined by Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon in the studio. The four gelled musically, and with Ronstadt’s support, went off on their own to become The Eagles.

Signing with David Geffen (who we all learned this week is the subject of Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain) and Asylum Records, they went off to London to record their first, self-titled album in 1972. The album was a hit and yielded three top 40 singles - Witchy Woman; Peaceful Easy Feeling; and Take It Easy.

Take It Easy was a song floating around in Jackson Browne’s notes. Browne was a neighbor and friend of Glenn Frey. Collaborating together, it was Frey who provided the second verse…and key location…of the song with the classic line “I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona…such a fine sight to see…” when the girl in the flatbed Ford slows down to take a look at him.
The song has had such an impact on the town of Winslow that a mural was painted and a statue installed on a downtown corner reenacting that bit of music. Notice in the picture the reflection of the girl in the Ford. It’s also just a great, simple catchy tune that helps the miles roll off as you’re driving down that lonely stretch of road.

Take It Easy was the Eagle’s first hit single. Travis Tritt wanted to sing it on an Eagles tribute album, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles. He wanted to get the band to work with him on the video but they were no longer together. He and his agent inquired, and to their surprise, the band came to his aid and appeared in the video. This reunion led to The Eagles getting back together (with Timothy Schmidt and Joe Walsh instead of Meisner and Leadon) and performing their hit Hell Freezes Over tour, which is also the best concert show I’ve seen on PBS.

As Frey starts it off in the video below (from the Hell Freezes Over special), here is where it all started…
-Darryl