Archive for the ‘Retired Doug Roadtrips’ Category

Rocky Mountain High

Friday, September 23rd, 2016


Once again, I leave Jackson, Wyo. threading my way south through Flaming Gorge, and out onto the Colorado Plateau.  First stop is the “Wall of Bones” in Dinosaur National Monument.  We’ve done a bang-up job with our WPA-style poster design here.


At my talk in Rocky Mountain National Park, I reserve a front row seat for an old friend, Tom Hornbein, of West Ridge Mt. Everest fame. As a teenager, Tom offered me weekend rides down to Mt. Rainier where he guided for Lute Jerstad after Everest.  I was volunteering with the Camp Schurman project on the NE side of the mountain.  It was Tom who coaxed me to apply for dental school–thanks Tom!  He’s now 85 and with two new hip replacements, we’re planning on tying on a climbing rope next month….stay tuned for this one!


Also at my talk (Beaver Meadows, Estes Park NP), was Pat Yeager Washburn, daughter of Dorr Yeager who promulgated the WPA poster series of the National Park Service….and one of my all time heroes.  I signed her poster and she signed her father’s autobiography, “Bob Flame–Rocky Mountain Ranger.”  You never know who is in your audience…..  Thanks Pat!


The next exciting stop was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, formed first as a National Monument in 1933.  It is spectacular–like the Grand Canyon squished together to within a mile.  This vertical perspective looks 2000′ straight down!   Ranger Mike gave me a personal tour.  When asked if base jumpers had ever tried here (it is illegal, btw), he simply stated that there is simply no place to land–and I believe him.  I’m doing a WPA-style silk screen poster of this magnificent National Park, numbering my 150th park unit visited!


After Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I push on first to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where I attend the Condor talk which preceded my WPA talk.  I did not see any condors, but am told that there are about 435 birds now back in the wild in several states, after the remaining 22 were captured in 1987 for a captive breeding program.  Here on the South Rim, I ponder the Moran View perspective–also used by WPA artists for the source of their design.  If you compare this photo to the poster, it is the river and the distant cliff (upper left) that defines this perspective.  It took a Grand Teton, Jenny Lake Ranger to figure this out, I might add……


Leaving the east entrance to Grand Canyon, one is greeted by the Vermillion Cliffs area–eye candy for a geologist. Vermillion Cliffs was designated a National Monument in 2000.


Millions of years of Mesozoic deposits are stripped away here by ancient rivers and wind revealing all sorts of wonder.


Navajo Bridge is part of the Glen Canyon NRA, one of 413 NPS units, built in 1927-9 to replace Lee’s Ferry and dedicated with a bottle of ginger ale as it was then during prohibition. I’m standing on this bridge looking at the new version completed in 1995. California Condors, now numbering 435, perch here looking for carrion.


This is the new Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center–it opened in 1997–worth a visit for sure!  Stay tuned–Mt. Lassen is next!


Graceland & Garbage

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Graceland Banner

Next stop on my tour is………Graceland!  I’m so close driving through Memphis that this is one place I can’t resist.  Since I just spent $33 on a hot bath in Hot Springs Arkansas, I’m ready to get fleeced again!  But, let’s camp first; I find this campground right across the street….!


Everything in Memphis is about Elvis.  In August, they have an Elvis look-alike show and I’m told it’s well worth the trip.  I’m going to start growing my hair out now…..


The Elvis Campground is the second worst that I’ve camped in in my 7 months on the road. The first is Royal Crest in Los Alamos NM.  Elvis Campground escaped the worst simply because it’s level.   As a parking lot, I would rate this poor; and it cost me more than getting into Graceland!    The ravine behind my trailer is full of garbage and if that’s not enough, a big noisy Caterpillar fills it with more garbage early each morning, burying the creek in the process.  The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is still at it!


There are five ways to enjoy your stay at Graceland–and I pick the cheapest and still get slickered–$34.75 with my ‘senior citizen with two broken leg’ discount…..and I have to wait an hour for the tour!  650,000 people visit Graceland each year–$26 million….every year!  Elvis was no fool, and I’m sure lives on somewhere and collects this without raising a finger, or his voice for that matter.  Me?  I hold the record for the fastest Graceland Tour at 23 minutes flat…..and I couldn’t wait to get out of there…..


This is the waiting room……totally tacky!


And just when you can’t take any more….there is MORE!  Yes, those are indeed Pink Elvis Thimbles.  On the shelf in little plastic wrappers below the pink stemware.  Who collects this stuff?


Finally, I get inside Graceland–which by today’s standards is a pretty ordinary house–it does sit on about 13.8 acres and has some horses still.  And Elvis owned four pianos, including this Steinway.  A little class in a sea of tackiness.


This yellow & black room with a porcelain monkey is where he relaxed with three TVs.  Bring on the TV dinners!


Pass me the aspirin–I’m getting a headache!


But, we’re not done yet… is a red waterfall in the Jungle Room complete with green pile carpet and dragon chairs.  It’s beyond words;  truly a toss-up between this and my campsite…..  Read more critiques here.


But you’ve got to give the guy credit–his wardrobe was spectacular!  And he did win a few awards–like the most ever of any musician over all time……  This guy could sell the sizzle!  Move over Mozart!


I want to give credit to Mom and Pop Presley–Elvis was born here in this house in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1935.  Seriously, after visiting Graceland, I just had to see this house so I drove 78 miles out of my way to Tupelo.    This house is 14′ X 28′ and built by Mr. Presley Sr. himself.  Like his mentor, Liberace, Elvis followed a stillborn twin–called a twinless twin.  My salute to the parents!


Well, I’m now an Elvis fan–and am convinced he’s still alive…..


….so don’t let this fool you!


The Algarve

Sunday, May 11th, 2014


Our last stop on our 5 months overseas is Portugal.  We rent a car in Seville Spain and drive 2 1/2 hours to Lagos on the SW coast.

Beach 2

The coast of Portugal is serrated by folded sedimentary rocks once connected to the Grand Banks Newfoundland.  This is wild place during storms.

Ghost Ship

Lagos is located near the SW corner of Portugal, which harbors lots of Brits and boats.  We rent a small house just outside of town on the Monte Judeu.  I purchase a small tuning hammer and tune the grand piano within.  We stock up on firewood and local catch.


This is Lago’s promenade which faces their boat basin.  Beyond are many grottos and beautiful isolated beaches.

Wind Mills

Just beyond our house is the small town of Sao Joao which sports a couple nice pubs.  Towering above are orchards of German wind turbines.  These stand over 400′ high, each arm over 150′, and produce 2000kw/hour.  They are a sight to behold when standing directly below.  I found no dead birds below them.


It’s time to hit the beaches, and Portugal is full of them and they are not that crowded….  The town of Lagos lies in the distance.

Beach Detritus 2

But the beaches are not all that clean.  These are all plastic particles…..

Beach Detritus

Here’s a close-up.  It’s sad we’ve so polluted our oceans that we cannot locate debris from a 777 which disappeared at this time


Lunch in the town of Salema.  Their Vino Verde wine is just right with their local fish.


Nearby we investigate the local megaliths.  If you look carefully, you will see that Clara left her mark also–way to go Clara, whoever you are.

Man with Pig's Head

Here a Portuguese farmer shows off a recently slaughtered pig.


 Our favorite restaurant in Lagos–Vecchia Milano–where the hostess plays the piano between orders.  We both entertain that night with fractured Chopin.  


 More fish for dinner…..our little home.

Wine Tasting

Some of our favorite wines of Portugal (and Spain).