Welcome to the Monty Wolf Blog!
Here you will find random bits of me

Thursday, September 27, 2007

except that the banana sticks to the wall

last night, as i was finishing up the dinner dishes after i made tacos, ron asked if i’d like to join him on a ride over to pacific grove.

as we left, we took ocean road down to the 17-mile drive to catch the sun halfway down the horizon. there were no clouds to accentuate the scene, but it is always a great sight to see the sun set into pacific!

as we drove around lands end, on which p.g. sits, the rising full moon came into view!

and what a view it was!

it was hovering over north monterey and salinas beyond, its reflection shimmering across monterey bay as we made our way around the north side of the peninsula and down to cannery row.

it was such a lovely sight that we parked just above the marina and watched the last of the sailboats catch what little breeze they could in the gathering dusk.

as we watched the moon rise and the hills disappear in the dark, ron enlightened me on a story susie told him about an alleged shopping cult that is hitting all the upscale boutiques in northern california.

apparently, this cult is based out of norcal in some unknown thriving community near the oregon boarder.

i say thriving because: this so-called cult allegedly has no leader and the members just go from boutique to boutique trying to outspend the other. therefore, in order to spend the kind of money it would take to buy some of the merchandise in some of these shops (i was looking at a really lame yellow on yellow plaid – god, i hate plaid – sport coat hanging in susie’s shop with a $3500 price tag on it, wondering who would pay that kind of price, let alone wear the obnoxious thing), the cult members must be independently wealthy.

as spalding said in “swimming to cambodia”: “all of the stories i’m telling you tonight are true. ah, except for one. except that the banana sticks to the wall. that’s it; all the other’s are true!”

or, as ron would, and did say: “you think i make this shit up!”

i guess you have to know susie to really “get” this story.

a few weeks ago, ron and susie went out to eat at the spanish bay club, just around the corner from here. susie ordered chilean sea bass. ron informed susie that it is on the endangered species list. susie’s reply was: “but, it’s already dead so it o.k.”

her grandmother passed away a few months ago and susie inherited, among other things, a mink coat. she’s having it adjusted to fit her, which is going to require the furrier to add a couple of pelts to it. ron suggested that she not say anything about the additions, as there are so many p.e.t.a. members around here who would take exception to the act. susie’s reply: “these things are raised on ranches, so why should they care?”

you think i make this shit up, don’t you?

ron has rented a condominium-villa for late october in newport beach for him, susie, lulu and one of lulu’s mutant friends. susie is insisting that the shitsus go too. but, the villa doesn’t allow pets.

do you think that’s going to stop susie?

She says she’s going to smuggle them into the suite in her luggage, sneak them out and drive a few blocks away so they can “do their business” (certainly they’ll “hold it” out of respect of the villa, being the classy mutts that they are). nobody will hear them as they don’t bark (too much) and the maids won’t know they’re there because the dogs are so quiet (sure they are!) and won’t shit or pee on the floor like they do at the dollhouse because the only reason they shit and pee on the floor at the dollhouse is because the loganator won’t let them out to “do their business.”


i can see that i’ll be running down there to bailout the piss-machines to bring them back up here so the loganator can dogsit between classes, football practice and watching the simpsons.

you think i make this shit up, don’t you?

speaking of the loganator: he’s off of the injured list and played in every offensive play last saturday in their game against solano, which the team won by a score of 54-34. the lobos have only lost one game this season and it looks like they’re on their way to another win as the team they’re playing this saturday is 0-4 for the season.

logan’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. ron wants to get him a new suit. logan wants to go online with ron’s credit card so he can order more simpson action figures.

during the move to the dollhouse, logan used an entire roll of bubble-wrap to protect his simpson action figures; all unboxed for superior presentation as opposed to keeping them in the original boxes for collectable value.

you think i make this shit up, don’t you?

and just so you know: all of the above stories, except for the banana, were suggested blog material by ron!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bigger and smaller wildlife sightings for today

it was another amazing day for mammalian sea creature encounters: within seconds of arriving at “our beach” for our morning meeting i noticed what looked like a spray of vapor about ¾ mile off shore. ron looked up in time to see the next spray; it was a pod of humpback whales.

they stayed between ¾ to 1-½ miles off shore, but it was another treat on back-to-back mornings that made for a great start to the day.

from that distance it was hard to tell how many of them were in the pod, but we guessed, by the distance between the spouts, that there were at least 4 of them; maybe more since they can hold their breath for great lengths of time.

i have been here for 3 months and yesterday was the first time we have seen dolphins from the beach and today was the first time we have seen whales. i did see whales a few weeks ago on the pose’s boat and ron has seen a whale come up close (100 ft.) to the beach as recently as last spring and has seen dolphins a few times, but it is the first visit while i was there to witness their appearances.

pacific grove, little more than a linear mile north of where i know sit is known as butterfly town, u.s.a. for the monarch butterflies that gather here each year to sit (fly) out winter. their migration brings them from alaska and canada to hang out around here in the milder temps.

i don’t know what it means for winter up north, but i saw my first monarch butterfly this afternoon.

pacific grove, also known as “america’s last hometown”, has an annual butterfly parade where the kids in town deck themselves out in butterfly regalia.

it must be quite a sight to see so many of the beautiful critters flying about; the butterflies not the children.

these are not leaves in the picture to the right; they are monarch butterflies that have gathered together in the monarch grove butterfly sanctuary.

and add to the wildlife encounters of the day: when i went out to get a case of water from my car i startled a black tail doe that was on our front porch. her adolescent youngster on the front yard stayed put while i walked within 15 feet of it; it’s big eyes not leaving me for a second.

dolphins yesterday; deer, butterflies and whales today; what’s left for tomorrow?


oh, the weather has been absolutely gorgeous with cool night for sleeping-bliss and highs near 80 with crystal-clear blue skies!

Monday, September 24, 2007

coffee for dolphins

some uninvited, yet very welcome guests interrupted our morning meeting on the beach this morning: a pod of at least 4 dolphins of unknown species.

what a wonderful sighting this turned out to be!

ron and i were discussing the october newsletter for waj when i noticed a dorsal fin about 300 feet offshore. moments later we could see them spouting and porpoising about 50 feet off of the beach! except for seaworld, this is the closest i’ve ever been to dolphins.

they were, apparently, working over a school of fish as they swam in and out and across the beach.

at one point, 3 of the beautiful creatures surfed a wave into the beach.

i drank my coffee with great enthusiasm as i watched the masters of the ocean swim just feet from where we were parked.

speaking of coffee: if you are not familiar with mike keneally and his band “beer for dolphins”, the title of today’s blog may have slipped by you as just another attempt at me being cute. well, it is a cute title, but with porpoise . . . i mean purpose.

eventually, 3 women walked by and we pointed out the dolphins to them. it turned out that one of them is a professional wildlife photographer who had a camera with a lens on it that could bring in saturn up-close-and-personal. i gave her my email address in the hopes that she might send me a copy or two of the mammalian sea creatures as they corralled their breakfast.

having a great interest in wildlife, i hope to become much more acquainted with diane, as she seemed quite knowledgeable of the various seabirds that passed over as we observed the dolphins.

# # # # #

i watched my new copy of spalding gray’s monologue “swimming to cambodia” last night. this is the 3rd or 4th copy of this incredible video that i have owned; the first was a copy i recorded from a bravo showing; the second was one dubbed from a vhs tape i rented while living in maine; the third was a vhs copy i bought from ebay a few years ago and is now hidden somewhere at my brother’s.

the clarity of this new dvd is better than i had hoped.

my brother and i were lucky enough to see spuddy perform this, his most famous, monologue in san francisco a couple of years before he died.

i miss spalding almost every day!

it is a high mark for which to reach, but i aspire to be as good and as entertaining as he was at telling stories!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

tales to tell: staying warm in a volkswagen

on christmas of 1992, after living in maine for far too long, while talking with my parents who had moved to nevada 6-months earlier from socal, i decided it was time to pull up stakes and head back out west.

at the time i had “retired” from radio for the first time about two years previous and was working for a telemarketing firm (not a scam outfit, thank you) as an office manager traveling from community to community throughout northern new england. we were working in rockland and i was living out of the tradewinds lodge on the waterfront, overlooking the bay.

i was making pretty decent money at the time. but, by living in hotels, i was spending a pretty good chunk of it on eating out 3-times a day. so, very little of it was going into the savings account.

besides: i never did get comfortable living in new england. and in my opinion: there is no worse place in the lower-48 to live in the winter than maine. not that summer is any better; when it’s 85° you can count on the humidity being up around 100%! there is really only about 2-weeks at the end of spring and 2-weeks at the beginning of fall when the weather is tolerable.

so, when we wrapped up rockland, i was in my volkswagen and on the road for the silver state.

there are some things you need to know about my volksy before i go much further into the story.

it was a 1976 super beetle. now, if you know anything about beetles, super or otherwise, you know that the heaters are not the best in the business. it also had a feature they called “auto-shift”. it was sort of a semi-automatic transmission in that you had to shift it, but when you moved the shifter more than a quarter of an inch a servo disengaged the clutch; there was no clutch pedal. that servo turned to junk about 200 miles after i bought the car and it was going to cost more than $2000 to fix the thing; more money than the car was worth. so, i just dealt with it.

one of the problems the servo’s lack of integrity caused was you could only shift it by turning off the engine, shifting it into a higher gear, and turning the engine back on. since it wasn’t like a “real” automatic transmission, it was much like rolling a 4-speed with the clutch out and the key on. only a little smoother; it just fired right up, without a lurch.

it would also not go into reverse! so, i either had to park on an uphill grade so i could let issac newton back the car out or pull all the way through a stall so i could drive straight out.

this was the car the i chose to leave new england in that january.

because of the heater being just about anything but, i bought some vacuum hose and duct tape and directed what little heat was coming out of the heater ducts to just below the front of the driver seat. it worked, but it was still far from a “real” heater.

i just dealt with the transmission issues.

by the time i got the car and myself all packed up it was about 9 in the morning before i was actually on the road and heading south to the maine/new hampster border. not that i could head directly to the border - there were people i needed to say goodbye to before leaving. so, by the time i got to portsmouth, nh, it was dark.

i spent the first night in port jervis, new york on the new york, new jersey, pennsylvania borders.

the morning brought only bad news: freezing rain in the mountains where i needed to travel!

but, i had miles to get under my wheels and hit the road as soon as i got breakfast under my belt.

it wasn’t long, however, before the freezing rain put a thick sheet of ice on my windshield as the defroster didn’t work nearly as well as the heater.

i pulled off of the interstate and, fortunately, there was a mom & pop convenience store at the top of the off ramp.

knowing what it was going to take to get the heat to the windshield from the vacuum hose coming from under my seat, i headed directly to the paper goods isle.

i exited the store a couple of minutes later with 4 rolls of paper towels and began to unroll the toweling from the rolls in the center and began to duct tape the empty rolls to the vacuum hose until the collection of tubing reached the ice-encrusted windshield.

i fired up the bug and stepped out to scrape the ice from the glass as the frost on the inside slowly began to melt.

when there was about 12 inches of clear glass, i headed back to the interstate. it was necessary to keep moving the “nozzle” across the windshield, but i was able to keep the glass clear until i reached the trailing edge of the storm.

when i got into wilkes-barre, pa, i stopped at kmart to grab some handwarmers to, hopefully, add a little more heat to the windshield. fortunately, i did not need to use them, as they didn’t put out enough heat to have any affect whatsoever.

before leaving town, i stopped at a gas station for a fill up.

one of the employees came out as i began to pump the gas and, seeing my license plates said: “you’re a long way from home!”

i told him i was going a lot farther as my destination was nevada.

“nevada?” he said. “you got a lot of balls driving a volkswagen all the way to nevada!”

replying with my motto, which came from a song by the bears, i said: “fear is never boring!”

he replied: “adrian belew!” and pointed at me.

i didn’t bother to correct him. since the song, in fact, was originally performed by the raisins, the other 3 members of the bears, a few years before adrian joined the band.

but, i took that as an omen that the rest of the day would be a good one; adrian being my idol and all.

it was!

i drove all the way to la salle, illinois (on i-80, about halfway across the state) where i spent the night.

the next day was the coldest day of the trip!

i had a thermometer from l.l. bean hanging on the dashboard that never got about 10° on that day. the only way i was able to stay warm was by keeping a blanket over me and trapping what little hot air was coming from the vacuum hose.

i drove all the way to cheyenne, wyoming where i spent my 3rd and final night on the road.

the next day was the longest of the 3-and-a-half days of travel.

i started out at about 7, drove into laramie for breakfast and began to cross the rocky mountains.

after having spent the previous day in a car where the temperature never got about 10°, i actually drove through the rockies with the window down. there was snow all around the highway, but it was a very pleasant day, maybe in the low 40s.

coming down the western slope, of the uintahs into salt lake, i was loafing the engine in an attempt to save a little gas. the only problem was, i loaded up the sparkplugs and the engine would hardly rev to get up the next range. after a little coaxing, and keeping the transmission in 3rd instead of 4th, i was able to clean out the engine and drive comfortably (well, as comfortably as one can in salt lake city during peak traffic-time) into slc and headed west toward my old stomping grounds: the bonneville salt flats and wendover, beyond.

knowing i was in the final stretch, i spent some extra time in wendover, eating a meal i could not find in new england: chicken friend steak, stretching my legs by walking around the casino, and looking at my picture on the wall in the state line casino’s convention center. 1978 was the last year the casino placed 200 mph club inductees pictures on the wall.

from wendover, it was just another 6 hours or so before i pulled into fallon at 1:30 the next morning; my parents, and grandmother, who was visiting from socal, stayed up to welcome me home.

the next morning when i got up and saw all the snow on the ground from the storm that raced across the country and into new england the day before i left i decided i was going to buy nordic skis so i could ski off the patio and into the desert. it was the one and only time i ever saw that much snow in fallon.

but, i was in fallon for the first time in about 40-years and it already felt like home. within a couple of days i was working at the nugget casino as the night club dj.

but, that is another tale to tell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

tv guide

it was a gorgeous day here today; sunny; warm; no wind; dead calm on the water!

the best day of summer!

ron and i met the daughter of one of our accounts from our days in the old country. we took her to lunch in carmel and i ran her around the peninsula being a tour guide.

lindsey, who has now been christened chanequa (pron. shu-nee-kwa), seemed to enjoy being on the pacific coast as opposed to the shores of lake michigan. can you blame her? she’s hoping to find a job in radio or a record label on the west cost; preferably in san francisco. can you blame her?

how chanequa, got her name is a very long story. but, when you hang around me and ron and/or the secret obelisk society, you will inevitably get a nickname. one day i will write about nicknames.

she’s now in san jose and will be on her way to sfo in a day or two.

# # # # #

i was poking around youtube last night and found some lsr-related videos that i want to share.

in 1996 my parents, john sprenger, kit catterlin and i were on the black rock desert to, hopefully, witness craig breedlove, once again, break the land speed record. back in the 60s, craig was the first person to set average speeds of over 400, 500 and 600 mph. he was hoping to be the first person to set an average speed of over 700 mph.

contrary to what you may have heard: the budweiser rocket car, driven by stan barrett, did not set a record and may not have even broken the speed of sound as alleged. we will never know for sure as the owner of the car (hal needham, a professional stuntman, which tells the story right there) did not want to run the car according to fia rules. so, what it amounted to was a stunt and not a record attempt. i’m sure the car reached a speed of 700 mph, but it was not an average speed and it was a terminal velocity speed not recorded over a “flying mile” like every other land speed record. their terminal velocity was supposed to be around 730 mph, which is not fast enough for them to have gone faster than the speed of sound at the elevation of muroc (now known as rogers) dry lake. they have been crying over not being recognized for breaking the record since the stunt took place back in the 70s. but, they have only themselves to blame. so, screw ‘em!

but that’s not why i brought you here.

in 1996, craig was trying to break the record before the british car, the trust ssc, was completed so he could claim 700 mph before them.

there were several things that did not go right on his last run of 1996: badly designed aerodynamics on the rear of the car, a faulty afterburner and a crosswind of about 15 mph.

the following video shows the results of this ill-fated attempt at the record.

craig was not injured, but i’m sure he needed a new firesuit when they got him out of the car!

the car’s onboard computer, which the team says was consistent with the timing clocks, claims the car was traveling 675 mph when it lifted off of the ground. if it was not going 675 it was very close.

kit and i were the first people on the course after the run. you could see where his wheels left the ground and came back down twice and a fraction of a second later was in a locked slide like a sprint car. the kevlar tire on the right rear came apart on impact with the ground and we gathered several pieces of it.

the following year, the brits arrived and methodically took their monster of a car up and over the record... and the speed of sound.

i missed the supersonic runs, but my parents, john, kit and my friend, willy, and i were there for the first lsr over 700 mph.

the first wheel driven vehicle to break a land speed record was the summers brothers’ super-sleek streamliner: the goldenrod. i have never seen the following film, which is in 3 parts.

this final video is a little silly, but has some very cool shots in it. it was shot about the time i was born and is full of bad acting, but it is well worth viewing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

tales to tell: who let the cats out?

in 1979, while living in maine, i met a man who trained wild cats for a living. his name was, and still is to the best of my knowledge, alan gold. at this time he had 4 african lions and 3 tigers (2 siberian males and one bengal female) and was performing at one of the animal parks in the area. my ex-wife, carol, and i used to go to the park on sunday afternoons in time to catch his last show and hang out for a few hours after the park closed.

part of alan’s job, besides performing shows throughout the day, was feeding the other animals in the park. which meant that when i was there, i was feeding the other animals in the park.

i really enjoyed hanging out with alan and his big cats and seeing them work together.

i have never been around animal trainers before, but alan appeared to be very competent and surely loved his cats.

i was always amazed at how well he worked with them and the comfort level he had achieved with the big critters.

alan’s, back was a mess of scars from having the animals claws on him (one of the bits he and the cats did was one of them would put their paws on his shoulders and he would walk around with the cat’s upper body-weight on him while they walked in tandem around the arena). being a circus-type entertainer, alan wore a leather vest with no shirt and the scars were quite visible, even from a distance.

but, as he explained it, it was just a hazard of the job and not any intention of the cat to harm him; they just happen to have really sharp, long claws.

another thing i learned from alan about the cats is that performing cats cannot be treated like zoo cats; they have to retain more of their wild-edge, as any performer might. so, hanging out with alan’s cats was closer to the real thing than just going to the zoo.

when he was preparing to feed his cats their wild nature was quite apparent by their attitudes: growling, pacing and pouncing as they impatiently awaited their meals.

i found it quite exhilarating and exciting!

despite the cats being a little on the wild side, it did not take long for them to become acquainted with carol and me.

i had, in fact, been in the cage with two of his young lions and had my hand in one of his adult lion’s mouths. that was a moment i will never forget.

the tigers were a different story altogether: tigers, as alan explained it, are big and bad and they know they are big and bad and like to remind you that they are big and bad. while the lions were kept behind barred cages, the tigers were retained in cages made of expansion metal (mesh), so we could only get so close to the tigers.

not that 125/thousandths is a great distance, but it kept me from touching them and them from killing me.

queenie, his bengal tiger, however, did everything she could to lessen that distance. she was a real sweetheart and wanted to love us long before we got near her. she would even notice us sitting in the crowd during the show, which didn’t always make for a good show. when we would arrive at his compound after the show she would start to growl (affectionately?) and rub against the cage in anticipation of us visiting, 100 feet before we got near her.

bengal tiger

she may have only been a small tiger (about 350 pounds), but she still had that tiger attitude that alan told us of. she may be sedate and loving one minute, then remember she’s a tiger and slap me just to remind me that she’s the bigger of the two. not meaning to kill me, just reminding me that she’s the superior one. but, with claws backed by legs with all the muscle, she could have surely killed me just by a quick wipe of here massive paw. i believe this is how roy horn received his wounds, which almost brought about his death a few years ago; it wasn’t anger on the cat’s part; it was only a reminder that the cat was really the boss.

still, it was always such a treat to have queenie rub up against me, even through the mesh, and poost (i have also heard it called pooft), a kind of voluntary purr, as i blew my breath into her face and wished, that just for a second, the mesh was not between us and i could wrap my arms around her massive neck and hold her like a child hugging the family pet.

after he fed his cats, we would feed the other animals in the park: beginning with the park’s big cats.

the park’s lions were my favorites of the cats that were not alan's!

it was the park’s male lion that i had my finger wrapped around its tooth; i was scratching him on the chin and couldn’t help but pull up his lip and do it. this while the enclosure was wide open and nothing between us but air and alan was collecting their meat from the cart.

moments later, alan passed me a pile of horsemeat, while the two lions stood there patiently waiting for us to feed them; far from the frenzy only minutes before when we were feeding his cats, who would have taken us down just to get to their food. nope! these two stood there as if to say: “are we going to have to stand here all day before you feed us? ‘cause... well... we’ll just stand here all day if we need to!”

the cat in the next enclosure, a male jaguar, would not get the same intimate feeding. we carefully slid it into a narrow slit between the floor of the cage and the cage itself. the cat never moved from its perch high in the corner of its enclosure, but not even alan would get near that cat.

there were other instances at the park with other animals that stand out in my memory: being licked by a full-grown male brown bear and being hugged by a baby black bear are just a couple of the standout moments.

i also had some pretty cool cat experiences at the sierra safari zoo when i was working for radio station koh in reno. periodically, i would go up there to do live remotes from the zoo, and to bring back a story for the next day. i got a great recording of a mountain lion purring while i stroked it’s back. a white tiger also licked me, which is a lot like being licked by a cheese grater! and the liger, who died just last year, tried to piss on me. but, the coolest of the cat experiences at the reno zoo was having two baby leopards play on my lap and fall asleep, one on my lap and the other on my shoulder while i sat thinking that in another year, they could have me for lunch.


i became friends with many of the animals at sierra safari zoo: wallabies; sloths; camels (i’ve been friends with a lot of camels, being the announcer of the international camel races in virginia city and riding one during the tournament of roses parade in 2000); coatamundis that ran over and around me like i was their long lost father and a ring-tailed lemur, named maya, who sat upon my head, tugging at the antenna on my cell phone while i called-in my remote. at one point, after the remote, laurie, the zookeeper said: “oh monty, i wish could see this! she’s grooming you! she must really love you!” laurie explained that lemurs have serrated teeth and she was pulling my hair, which was quite long at the time, through them. i wanted to take her home with me the moment i saw her and hearing laurie tell me of the grooming put me over the edge with the desire to have her as my own.

female lemur and twins

in the habitat, along with maya, was the real reason why i was there in the first place: a mama lemur and her baby clinging tightly to hear chest, which maya was quite proud of in her midwifery-self.

i could have taken them all home!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

we were lucky because of luciano

r.i.p. luciano pavorotti

take the above link to hear his greatest!

i have added some pics to my photo album (in almost all of the public albums) and my blog for september 2nd.

oh, it is my birthday today!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

travels made and yet to be made

as i begin to write this, i’m in the regency lounge of the hyatt hotel in sacramento, looking out at the capitol dome, which is about 500 feet from where i now sit with a double jack daniels sitting next to me. our room is almost directly above me, on the 11th floor. i cannot see the sun, but it is about to set. it is a beautiful sight.

our room was up there

ron’s taking a shower and we’re going to old town sacto for dinner.

we’re up here after a very hot day in marysville to watch the loganator play in his first college game against the yuba college 49er’s. the monterey peninsula college lobos did not play well and lost 17 to 28, or something like that. not being into any sport that has participants with fewer than 1000 horsepower, i have to admit, i was just a casual spectator and there just for ron and logan (and melrose media secret weapon, eddie, who was warming the bench because he missed a practice session). the loganatator played well until he sprained his left ankle in the first quarter. he limped his way through the second quarter and sat-out the rest of the game.

it was a very hot day out in the sun, after living in pebble beach for the past couple of months where it rarely gets over 70°, let alone receives much sunshine. i’m not used to 100° like when i was still living in nevada and being dropped into it all-of-a-sudden was a real shock to me.

i got a little bit of a sunburn on my face and a little less on the tops of my feet, which i was mostly concerned with since i no longer have my sandals-tan.

the ride up was pretty uneventful; ron drove the first 50 miles or so to “johnnie” cochran, and i drove from there. the biggest issue is that ron cannot let me just drive; he has to interject advise every ½ mile or so: “don’t use the cruise control” (yeah right!); “don’t use the cruise control and drive in the fast lane“; “don’t drive in the fast lane when others are driving faster than you” (this when i was passing drivers who were on my right); “make sure you’re in the right lane here“; “not that right lane, this right lane!”

the press car we have this week – one of two (we left the audi tt convertible at home since it has such a small trunk and uncomfortable seats) is a nissan altima hybrid. the only thing i was looking forward to was seeing us get the alleged 42 mpg. but, i have to admit: i really enjoyed driving it. like the honda hybrid we had a few weeks ago, it was a little sluggish from a dead start. but, unlike the honda, this one really got with the program once you had a little momentum. we were stuck behind some kind of farming vehicle on route 113 at about 20 mph and i was just going to take him, let the oncoming cars pass us, and go for the pickup that was pacing him. but, when i stepped on the throttle, it came alive with far more horsepower than i expected! it really laid me back into the seat!

speaking of route 113: as we were heading east on i-80 through dixon, we passed a sign that said “113 dixon”, with an arrow to the right and “113 north” with an arrow pointing straight ahead with no indication where that exit might be.

ron chastised me for missing the exit (113 dixon) and insisted i pull off at the next exit, which had no numerical designation. i could see there was another exit about a mile beyond that looked like it was more like a highway intersection than just another road. i could also see on the onboard gps that there was a road with a highway-looking red line as its indicator.

we traveled north on the unnamed road for about 5-miles before i elected to turn right, even though ron insisted 113 was to our left. after we made the turn, and the admonishments increased, i pointed out that the gps now showed that 113 was slightly less than 1 mile to our east.

i’m used to people not trusting my skills as a navigator. for most people, navigating is a matter of knowledge of the roads they regularly travel, or luck. for me: it is a matter of instinct. i truly believe that had i been around 200 years ago, i would have been a scout.

i’m now back in pebble beach as i continue this entry.

ron and i took a cab down to old town sacramento to check things out. as it turned out, there was an event taking place: “gold rush days”. they brought in dirt and spread it around the streets. this was the first time i’d been to old town sacto. in fact: this was the first time i’d been in downtown sacramento since i was about 11 when, on our way to clear lake to visit my great uncle and aunt lyle and helen, we took one of the few diversions ever taken by my father; driving past the capitol so we could see it out the side and rear window as we passed.

old town sacto at night

ron and i strolled along the streets and boarded the “delta king” paddlewheeler to check out the river and see if we wanted to stay for dinner. we did not. not because it didn’t seem like the right place; we just didn’t.

we headed over to the embassy suites (this is where we were going to stay, but they were out of two-bed suites when i called to make reservations) so ron could use the atm and had the front desk call us another cab.

from there, we took the cab back to within about 4 blocks of the hyatt for dinner at frank fat’s, a legendary chinese restaurant frequented by lobbyists and politicos who come to the capitol city. ron had cashew and macadamia chicken and i had kung pao shrimp. the peanuts were prepared a little differently than i had tasted before: they were roasted in 5-spice powder.

a panoramic view of the dining room in frank fat's
clicking on the image will begin the panoramic pan

after dinner we walked back to the hotel.

this morning we drove up to carmichael to meet ron’s mom, genie, and her boyfriend, max, aka: the colonel.

genie, whom i have spoken to on the phone several times over the past 5-years met me with a warm hug, and max and i immediately began to gab!

the colonel drove b-17s, b-24s and b-25s in ww-2. so, we had a love of aviation in common. max seemed to be impressed that i could keep up with the conversation and i was able to add my knowledge of the aircraft of which we spoke. he is a true american hero and has more stories than i could ever tell; and i have more stories to tell than the average person!

while max and i went on about warbirds and historic aircraft, ron and genie carried on their conversation.

at one point, ron disappeared and genie came over to join our conversation.

after a few minutes, genie, sounding a lot like ron, said: “monty! you know, i’ve always got some deal going on (now i know where he got it). max and i are going to hawaii in december.”

now, at this point, i thought she was asking me to housesit for either, or both of them. i never expected what followed.

“and i want you to come over with us!”

i’m still blown away!

i have no idea exactly when we’re going or to what island we are going, but i have never been to hawaii so it doesn’t really matter.

max said he likes maui, sounding like we are not going there, and genie said she likes honolulu for its nightlife. so, i assume that means we’re going to oahu.

i also do not know when in december. but, i’ll be near pearl harbor near the 66th anniversary of the fateful attack with a genuine world war 2 hero. he may have been in europe, but max is sure to add a lot of detail and insight into that experience!

it looks like i’ll be the chauffer for the trip, like that’s going to be difficult to take!

i need to add that ron was completely taken by surprise by this upon his return to the room. so, he had nothing to do with sponsoring the trip!

as we left, it was apparent that i had made two new friends. when genie hugged me, she pointed out that the pats on my back that she added made “it real!”

on our way back to pebble beach i continued my day of ww-2 history by stopping in alameda to visit the uss hornet! what a great experience that was!

the uss hornet

i had been on the dock, looking up at the great ship back in 1993 when i was with john sprenger and again in 1996 when jim isbister and i were there to declare items for the nas fallon club system when i worked for the navy. but, this was the first time i had been onboard.

ron was assigned to one of the hornet’s sister-ships:, the Ticonderoga, back in the early days of vietnam, so it was interesting to hear what he had to say about this similar, essex-class vessel. we also had a wonderful tour guide who really enjoyed what he was doing.

skipper ron at the con of the hornet!

we got to tour the hanger and flight decks and climbed up into the island to check out the bridge. we also got to see neil armstong’s (replicated) footprints, the mobile quarantine facility used for apollo 14, an apollo capsule used for water-egress training and some kind of soyuz return capsule.

there is still much work to be done to this floating museum, but it was an experience i will not forget!