Monday, November 23, 2020

L.A.'s Day of the Dead


It's Halloween and all the ghouls and goblins will be on the prowl for sweets tonight. In Los Angeles, with it's large Hispanic population, it's also time for Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It's a day for families to get together and remember family members who have pas sed on.


This holiday has been gaining traction over the last couple of decades and you can now visit some very beautiful and complex altars that are built to honor the dead. 


Over the last 20 years or so, I used to walk daily in Downtown Los Angeles. Each year at this time, I'd wander over to Grand Park or Olvera Street and take in some of these displays.


Here is a gallery of some of them that I've come across on my walks.


Grand Park


Olvera Street


Olvera Street (Old Plaza)


Olvera Street


The Music Center


The Music Center


Grand Park


Grand Park


The Music Center

Grand Park is located on the west side of City Hall and runs three blocks to the Music Center on Grand Avenue. Accessible subway transportation is available via the Red and Purple Metro Lines, exit Grand Park/Civic Center station.  Olvera Street is located directly across the street from Union Station on its west side main entrance. Many accessible rail lines, the Gold, Red, Purple, and Metrolink trains, all serve this station.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 22, 2020

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Moscow Mule


I have a theory...that my wife likes Moscow mules so much not because they taste good (they do!) and have a good kick but that it gives her a reason to go shopping for the copper mugs used for the drink.


Watch the Video!

After being very picky about it, I just went ahead and ordered a set on Amazon. They came in last week so, already having the ginger beer and vodka in stock, Tim and I set out to try our hand at it.

The results can be seen in the video, above.

INGREDIENTS - (1 drink)

2-oz vodka
6-oz ginger beer
juice of one lime
sprig of mint

Pour the vodka into the mug. Cut off a few leaves of mint from the sprig and put into the mug. Muddle the mint in the vodka.  Put in the lime juice, fill cup with ice, fill with ginger beer and stir.

Garnish with the rest of the mint sprig and a slice of lime.

Option 2 is to add a splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier to the drink

Option 3 is to add a splash of sweet and sour

If you want it sweeter, you can also add a splash of grenadine.

Postcript: my wife returned the mugs and will buy a set she likes better.

Cheers!

Darryl

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Day in the Pass - Grants Pass, Oregon


(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) 

NOTE: As this is going live on November 20, 2020, the governor of Oregon has imposed a new lockdown of at least two weeks. Indoor dining, like in the story below, is not allowed for at least another week. 

It's time to do a little exploring of our base camp here in Southern Oregon. We've got a basically decent room with a million dollar view of the Rogue River and the Caveman Bridge. It's only a few blocks from the historic downtown of Grants Pass so we'll do that today.

First, we need some breakfast. The hotel is serving a basic Continental breakfast that you need to reserve the night before, pick up in the morning, and take back to your room. We did that the first couple of days and, while there's nothing wrong with it, we want a full breakfast experience this morning.

Across the street from the hotel is the massive, three story Taprock restaurant. I see they serve breakfast so off we go. 


The street, 6th Street, is a very busy one and a direct crossing just seems too dangerous. Our choices are to walk two blocks east and cross at a signal or walk over the bridge and cross over to the other side via an underpass. We choose the bridge route.


It's a fairly empty restaurant this morning, so we get a table with a view.


Tim and I have a hearty pancake breakfast...


...while Letty goes with the eggs Benedict.

Letty had seen a shopping center with a Marshall's and a Joann Fabrics with a pub between the two of them. Tim and I could wait in the pub while she shopped. Sounded good to us so we go and let her run free. At the pub, Tim and I find it's no longer in business so we walk around bored for awhile until Letty quenches her shopping urge.

Back in downtown, we start at the center where a few thrift shops abound on H Street. Again, Letty goes to town shopping while Tim and I explore.


This time, we have better luck as we roam the streets of downtown Grants Pass. Eventually, we find the Wonder Bur bar and knock back a glass.

Letty's still shopping when we get out so we wander down 6th Street a bit, past the busy cannabis store, on to the Cowboy Store, a music shop, and end up at Grants Pass Pharmacy where an old soda fountain sits.


The young lady behind the counter makes a Coke for us the old fashioned way, by pouring syrup and carbonated water into the glass separately and stirring. Tim enjoys this authentic soda jerk mixed beverage.

When we're all back together, we head back to the hotel, about a 3 block walk. Along the way, we find an alehouse where you pick your choice of tap and they'll fill a growler for you to go. 


Next, we find a distillery next to our hotel.



It's a few sips of whiskey and moonshine. I couldn't resist taking home a bottle of my namesake 'shine.

After a rest at the hotel, it's time for dinner. We choose to go back to Taprock but will take a tour of Riverside Park, on the opposite bank of the river, first.


There's a nice splash pad for the kids to play in...


...but the park is a bit of a magnet for the homeless and drug users.


It's a nice steak dinner to end our day out.


Back at the hotel, we break into a bottle of whiskey from the distillery next door and have a toast to this pretty little town. Tomorrow, we head home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Retooling for the Road Ahead



Technically, this blog has always been about the special needs/caregiving lifestyle but has always really been about 95% travel and maybe 5% something else. We also have some other blogs but they've kind of gone into hibernation over the years, mainly due to low readership...it's kind of disheartening to pour all the hours needed into writing, formatting, and posting when you end up with only 3 or 4 views.

We don't have that problem here at The World on Wheels, thanks to our wonderful followers and fans, we get plenty of traffic. A problem is here, however, and...like everything else this year...is Covid 19 related: travelling is very limited right now and we need to expand our horizons.

There have been times in the last few years, also, where the hassle of traveling gets in the way. Resort fees, crowded airport with security line nightmares, expensive hotels, service cuts, and bad customer service have had us asking if it was all worth the expense and effort. I have to admit that I've often wondered what it would be like if we just stopped traveling.

With the virus pandemic and it's attending shutdown orders, I no longer have to wonder. It really hasn't been bad and I haven't missed it.

Does that mean I'm ready to hang up my passport and stay home? Not on your life but I am dialing it back quite a bit. From now on, I really don't want to waste a lot of money, effort, and time on a trip that is lackluster. 

What does that mean for the blog? 

To freshen things up, we're going to expand on our original plans to be more of a lifestyle blog...those stories from our other blogs about cooking, gardening, entertainment, etc., will be run on this blog, too, on the days we usually don't post travel stories. The World on Wheels will become more of a world and not just about traveling.

Stay tuned for more as we expand our world and, as always, you're welcome to follow along and let us know how we're doing.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 16, 2020

High Times at a Deep Lake: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon



(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) 

NOTE: As this is going live on November 16, 2020, the governor of Oregon has imposed a new lockdown of at least two weeks. 

The highlight of this trip to Southern Oregon is on tap for today. At least we hope it is.

We already delayed this trip by a week because of extremely heavy smoke. Although it rained a couple of days, the fires are still burning. We're heading to Crater Lake but hoping we'll be able to see it once we get there.

Our worries are for naught, however, as this is the first truly clear day in weeks.

It's a two hour drive from our hotel in Grants Pass to the edge of the lake. Although it climbs up 7,000 feet, it's an easy drive with little traffic and lots of long stretches of straight road. Unfortunately, there's no public transportation up to the park, so you'll need your own car to get there.

We flash our Access Pass at the entrance and cruise on in, saving a nice thirty dollars on the entrance fee (make sure you get an Access Pass if you qualify...it's free and gets you into our National Parks for free. You can get one at the entrance station at most National Parks. They're good for life. Click on the link for more information - Ed)

Our destination is the Rim Village Visitor's Center on the south edge of the lake. There is a large lodge here with a cafeteria, gift shop, and restrooms. If there's no parking, continue east through the parking lot to the road that continues and you'll find more parking.

We wander over to the rim and are just blown away by the view. Bright blue skies and a very glassy, deep blue lake that reflected everything like a mirror.

Crater Lake, at almost 2,000 feet deep, is the deepest lake in the United States. There is no wind rippling the water, no boats creating wakes, and it is just breathtaking.

After enjoying the view, we head back over to the gift shop, pick up a few souvenirs, and buy some lunch. Covid 19 has eliminated any tables to sit at so we head back over to the rim, sit on the wall, and have a picnic with quite a view.

It's nice to get these views but we'd like a more inclusive, all-encompassing experience. Before we came up, I checked the park's website for accessible features and found there were a few accessible trails. We decide on the Sun Notch Trail because it's not too long and would allow us to do it without taking a lot of time from our day.

It's about a 20 mile drive from the visitor center to the trailhead. Blink and you'll miss it so pay attention. The trail is hard-pack but smooth dirt. There is some elevation to it. A good power chair should have no problem, manual users need to be strong or have a strong pusher available.

It's a nice trail that leads up to an overhead view of the Phantom Ship, a small island just offshore. Keep going and the views only get better.

Here is the view of the Phantom Ship.


Here is a view across the lake to Diamond Peak, way in the distance.

There is a spot, maybe 10 feet long, that goes along an exposed cliff so be very careful on that spot. If you only go to the first viewpoint, you won't go by that part so you can stop your hike there and return to the parking lot if it bothers you.

It's a very nice hike, just right for exercise and scenery. My phone's pedometer says we did 2 miles when we get back to the car.

On the way up, I saw a sign for the Rogue River Gorge. It sounded neat so on the way down, I make sure we stop.



The Rogue River rushes down from springs on the side of the mountain that contains Crater Lake. It has scoured a small section of rock and forms some spectacular cataracts. Viewing platforms get you very close to the rushing waters.

The paved, accessible trails takes you along a quarter mile of this narrow gorge and to four view points. It's quite a sight to see that rush of water going through. According to an sign at the site, enough water to fill an Olympic sized pool goes through every second.

Back in Grants Pass, this same river placidly and widely flows by our hotel room.

One more stop on the way down, Phil's Frosty in Shady Cove. It's sunny, clear and warm so some ice cream is in order. I get a cone of soft serve while Tim and Letty share a bowl of regular ice cream. It's delicious.


After that day, we're a bit tuckered out so we just relax in our room, enjoying some drinks on our balcony, watching the river flow by.


Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Cocktail Hour: Canadian Beer Taste Off


This was so much harder to put together than our recent Canadian Whiskey taste off. Canadian beer is pretty darn hard to find here. Originally, I had wanted to pit Molson Canadian against Moosehead but I really could not find anyone selling the Canadian here.


Watch the Video!



A trip to the beach last week meant we could stop at Total Wine and More, our local 'everything' liquor store...much more selection than, say, Bevmo...so I was able to put together three bottles from our neighbors to the north.

The contenders...Labatt Blue, a pilsner from Toronto; Moosehead, a lager from St. John's; and Blanche de Chambly from Unibroue in Quebec.

Moosehead was the smooth, skunky smelling beer I remember from my younger days. It's good, it's smooth, but the importing time in those green bottles definitely skunks the beer.

The less said about Labatt the better. Just nothing to taste there at all.

Unibroue's Blanche de Chambly, a Belgian style white ale, was delicate, flowery, and delicious. A great beer for a hot day where...as you can see in our video above...it was 84 degrees when we tasted.

Watch the video above for more in depth reactions, we'll catch you next time.

Cheers!

Darryl

Friday, November 13, 2020

Into the Valley of Fire: Southern Oregon


(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) Interstate 5 is giving us a front row seat to disaster. Burned up hulks that used to be cars on the right. A debris-strewn hell landscape to the left that, only a week ago, was a thriving residential neighborhood. A blackened field with only a chimney denoting where a house had been. A rushing creek flowing through two black banks.


A week ago, all was normal in the towns of Talent and Pheonix, here between Medford and Ashland, Oregon. Now, over two thousand homes are gone and three people have lost their lives to, what authorities belive, is a human-caused fire that swept through the towns and over the freeway we're now driving on.

After six months of staying at home due to the Covid 19 pandemic, a few places are starting to slowly loosen up. My wife is itching for a little change in scenery and either Idaho or southern Oregon seems to be the safest options within driving distance for us so we'll dip our toe into the water for a short getaway.

Then, Oregon caught on fire and we pushed the trip back until some rain came to dampen the flames.

Before we cross the border, though, we stop in the town of Weed which has a nice cottage industry of double-entendred souvenirs trading on the town's unusual name. There's even a cannibis dispensary (La Florita) downtown so you can get your weed in Weed.

The town sits right at the bottom of the massive Mount Shasta, a 14,000 foot plus snow covered volcano that juts up over 10,000 feet over the town in an impressive show of force.

For us, it's a halfway point where we can fill up on gas and get something to eat. There's not a lot to choose from here, so we get a nice lunch at the Hi Lo Cafe before moving on.

We pass the Jackson County Fairgrounds on the right, which has now become a giant evacuation and aid center.

A park alongside the road is filled with tents of those displaced. 

It's a dystopian landscape for a few miles along the busy freeway.


Once in Grants Pass, it's not long before we find our hotel, the Riverside Inn on 6th Street, at the west end of the historic downtown. The name fits as it sits on the banks of the Rogue River. Every room faces the river for some fantastic views.  It'll be our home for the next four nights.

The room is on the 2nd floor, with two queen beds. Barely accessible, it's a tub with a shower chair and bars, but it'll work for what we need. There is a balcony overlooking the river and the beautiful Caveman Bridge.

Covid precautions at the hotel include masks required whenever you're out of your room and in the vicinity of other guests or staff, sanitizer stations, plexiglass barriers in the lobby, no housekeeping (you can request towel exchange, trash service, etc) except for every four days, and you need to pre-order your continental breakfast and arrange a time to pick it up in the lobby.


We unpack. Still full from lunch, we settle down to watch the geese and ducks splash in the river while having a glass of wine from our balcony. Time to rest up before we start this trip in earnest.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 9, 2020

Looking for Weed in California


(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) Sorry if you herbalists came here for a different reason after seeing the headline above, we're not in search of California's famously legal cannabis. We're on our way to Oregon and looking for a place to rest up and recharge before hitting the road again.

What we're looking for is a town that is almost exactly between our home east of Sacramento and Grants Pass, where we'll be spending the next few days exploring, to fill up our gas tank, empty our bladders, and have some lunch. That town is Weed, in the shadow of mighty Mount Shasta.

While they're not above cashing in on their town's unusual name, it's not the intoxicating plant that the town is named after, it's named after the founder of the local lumber mill, Albert Weed.


There are three highway exits here. We get off on the first one where all the gas stations are located to take care of that. Then back on the Interstate for one exit. The Hi Lo Cafe sits next to the Hi Lo Motel and is just about the only place in town with indoor, sit down service right now.

It's a nice lunch and we move on, checking out one of the town's souvenir shops (photo at top) where you can buy t-shirts punning on the name of the town (the Weed Police, Enjoy Weed, etc.) and pick up a bottle of wine for later.

We drive through the sleepy little downtown before hitting the freeway again. Yep, there is it. La Florista. The town's weed dispensary. 

I guess not all of it is a joke...

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 8, 2020

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Oregon Ale Taste Off


It's Oktoberfest season and here at The World on Wheels we're celebrating by focusing our Cocktail Hours on beer...

Tim and I are back again, this time tasting two Oregon produced ales.  Why?  Because this is what I found in the clearance basket at Albertson's!

The first ale is Drifter Pale Ale, produced by the Widmer Brother Brewery of Portland.  They're more famous for their hefeweisen and I'd never even heard of this ale before.  According to the brewery, there is supposed to be notes of citrus in the flaver.  It's an amber colored brew with a slight off-taste, probably that citrus essence they're going for.

Watch the Video!

The second is Dead Guy Ale, produced by the Rogue Brewery out of Newport.  A cloudy, golden ale, this was made in celebration of the Mayan Day of the Dead.  The skeleton on the label makes it popular with Grateful Dead fans.  Smooth, and tasty, we liked this one the best.

Cheers!

-Darryl

Friday, November 6, 2020

CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH TOWNS: Volcano


As the Gold Rush ground on, statehood for California was achieved, and people started to put down roots in what was formerly frontier towns. On the other side of the country, several southern states attempted to secede and create their own, slave owner friendly nation.

In California, people were choosing sides.

The Knights of the Golden Circle were a citizen-formed militia up in the town of Volcano that was aligned with the rebels of the Confederacy. A smaller group, the Volcano Blues, were their rivals supporting the Union.


As it became known that the rebel group we're making plans to steal the locally produced gold to send it to the south, the Blues sought a way to stop them and sent word to the Presidio in San Francisco to send troops for backup. None were available but the army sent word that a spare cannon was on the docks if they'd like to pick it up.

Arrangements were made to hide the cannon in a casket and haul it up the the Blues militia in Volcano. A local blacksmith built a carriage for it. One day soon after the cannon was delivered the Knights massed to face off with the Blues in the middle of town.

Crying out to the Blues to give up because they were outnumbered, the Knights made a formidable line. The Blues, however, had a ace up their sleeve...their ranks parted, revealing a grinning miner with a flame ready to light the fuse of the cannon, whose business end was pointed squarely at the Knights.

Luckily, the Knights quickly dispersed and the cannon was not fired that day. Later, an artillery expert came up from the Presidio to unload the cannon...the miners didn't know how to do this...and it was discovered that triple the amount of gunpowder was in the cannon. The ensuing explosion would have decimated the militia and anybody else that was around.


Now trained on proper use of the cannon...given the name "Old Abe"...the Blues would load it with a double blank charge and set it off upon word of a Union victory. Allies of the Blues would be warned to open their windows before the blast while the Knights and their confederates would be in the dark and have their window panes shattered.

Today, Volcano is a sleepy little former mining town of 115 souls, down from about 5,000 in the Rush, sitting on the banks of the gold-rich Sutter Creek. Looking a few feet up Consolation Street ,off of the corner of Charleston Street, a small wooden shed sits. Inside the chain link covered doors, you can gaze upon Old Abe, still sitting in a place of honor in downtown Volcano.


Name for the crater-shaped depression the town sits in, Volcano isn't' actually a volcano. The name was simply a geologic mistake by early settlers. Tiny even by Amador County standards, the town is situated well off the beaten path. Either you drive the 11 miles of bumpy Sutter Creek-Volcano Road from highway 49 in Sutter Creek or the 3 miles of smoother Pine Grove-Volcano Road from highway 88 in Pine Grove. The second option also takes you by Grinding Rock State Park, a very worthy stop where ancient Americans ground acorns and drew petroglyphs in the giant rock that is still pockmarked by hundreds of depressions used for that purpose.


Find a spot to park, mostly limited street parking although there's a vacant lot behind the post office that no one minds if you park in, and start exploring. The town is tiny, just two blocks of what can generously be called a downtown, bookended by two hotels...the St. George to the south and the Union Inn to the north.


The Union Inn, owned by Mark and Tracy Berkner of Taste Restaurant in nearby Plymouth, is the fancier of the two. 


Accessible via a ramp in the garden, the menu here is a little more "pub" friendly compared to the flagship Taste restaurant, which is consistently rated one of the best restaurants in the state.


Anchoring the other end of town, the St. George is accessible from a bumpy, slab sidewalk out front. Like many buildings here in the Motherlode, the old split doors can be opened fully upon request to allow chairs to go through. The St. George also has the distinction of having the only accessible accommodations in town.


In between, you can get snacks and burgers at the general store, which has been in operation continuously (and looks like it) since the Gold Rush. Only the store is accessible as there are a few steps down into the dining area.


Next door, Kneading Dough Bakery has some delicious sweets (old double door, too...ask them to open it) in a small space.

Across the street is the Volcano Theatre Company which mounts very good stage productions during the warmer months in their outdoor amphitheater.


Around the corner, you'll be back at Old Abe's barn and the Union Inn.


Volcano is a tiny, peaceful place. It's good for a day visit while you're up in the area or even an overnight. The town is little changed from the days miners pulled out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold from the ground and access can sometimes be a challenge but it's a cute place and you'll be able to see the good stuff from your chair.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved