Sunday, October 25, 2015

Road Trip to Reno - When 48 Hours and a Rental Car Can Seem Like Freedom

The Nugget sign is cool and so old school.
When was the last time you declared, "Road Trip!" and meant it? For me it had been years, maybe decades since I dropped everything and headed somewhere.

Back in July a group of my friends all had a trip planned to Reno, me I had obligations. Work meetings kept me from jumping a Southwest flight and going with everyone. Well, until my customer cancelled and freed up my schedule at the last minute.

I do mean last minute and it was 9 p.m. on a Thursday, before I actually hit the road to Reno. The choice to go was unlike when I was younger, back then it was hell yes, where are we going? I questioned if I really needed to go, if I could get a room and was it a good choice. Yep, I nearly let reason get in the way of a great road trip.

TIP: Last minute trip, go online and use Not my first choice for rooms, I like to know where I am staying before I book. A rental car is a different thing and they are cheap when you bid.

After picking up a mileage happy rental, I grabbed some energy drink and a burger. Because it was late, the traffic was light and I hit the road. Once out of town, I found the 395 and was off the primary freeway. The 395 out of Victorville is an incredible two-lane that is wide and smooth. It is dark and if you can live with that the ups and downs can be fun.
Just one of the majestic sights along highway 395

The remainder of the trip on the 395 is breathtaking by day. At night its fun, with small towns lit by neon and on a moonlit night landscapes for miles.

I arrived in Reno road haggard and strung out on energy drink and cheap snacks. It was either really late at night or super early in the morning, depending on how you look at it. My room at the Eldorado was arranged by a friend and the front desk had everything ready, even at the late/early hour.

Friday and Saturday was the style trip that friends remember. We all embarked on an outing of gambling, food, drinks, laughs and stories. We explored downtown Reno, a place that lacks the shine and variety of Las Vegas. What it does have is character and some darn good bars and eateries. Take a look at the places we found below and recommend.

ELDORADO                            HARRAH'S
Roxy Bar & Lounge                  Hash House A Go-Go
The Prime Rib Grill                   Harrah's Steak House
Brew Brothers

Next time that someone yells "Road Trip" stop and consider your sanity, your friendships and staying young. A good road trip will add at least a couple of years to your life, I am sure of it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Los Angeles is the Most Inked in America

My photoshop ink makes me look just like an Angelino.

I recently saw a Harris Poll that stated, research shows Los Angeles is the most inked market in America. The research also shows that Atlanta, Georgia is the least inked.

The Harris Poll research release has a great quote:
The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have tattoos, and those who are afraid of people with tattoos.- Author unknown
The research poll also finds that tattoos are moving from the fringe and towards the mainstream. For me a tattoo is something so permanent and so definitive that I could never decide what or if I should ink myself. 
Many of my friends have tattoos and some have really put considerable time in choosing them. I have one friend who even inked himself and his tattoos are fantastic. My first question to him was how much it hurt to ink himself and then how he did such detailed work upside down?
Tattoos today are the norm and many think they make them look sexy, tough or intimidating. To others the tattoo is a badge or representative of a club membership. I do wonder if some people have them just to be one of the crowd and if the trend grew away from tattoos, how will they feel about the sleeves and the ink on their backs?
As far as me, I'm still a clean slate and I am not afraid of people with tattoos either. 
Tell me why you have a tattoo and what it signifies.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Hidden in Plain Sight Hiking, Biking & Horse Trails of Orange County, California

My favorite home base trails 
for running & hiking

When I am not traveling or trying to talk an exotic auto manufacturer into letting me drive a car for the next week, I am usually in Peters Canyon Regional Park.

The park is 345 acres that is simply hidden in plain sight. With numerous trails for all abilities it can offer an easy stroll or a challenging hike, bike or run.

These trails and the views are so inviting and make you feel like you drove far out of the populated Orange County, California cities. There are even areas on the trail you cannot see houses or roads, but honestly very few. You can walk a well traveled trail through the shady canyon named the "Mountains to Sea Trail". My personal favorite is the "East Ridge View Trail", with a series of climbs and descents, great views and one very steep trail climb.

All of the trails are well marked, maintained and have seating areas along the way. Take note that even though Peters Canyon is just minutes from urban jungle, it has plentiful wildlife. I have seen coyotes, snakes and critters, but just keep alert and you will be fine. At the trail head is street parking street on the Tustin side and a huge parking lot on the Orange Park Acres side. You will also find toilets that are maintained by the park service.

I view these as the very best trails in central Orange County that you can enjoy just before work or just after and always on the weekend. They are close, offer variety and views worth seeing. 

Take Tustin Ranch Road East from the 5 freeway and turn left on Pioneer Way (Approx. 5 mi). One block and turn right onto Pioneer Road. In one mile you turn left onto Peters Canyon Road. The trail begins at the roads end.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Speeding Across Lake Havasu in the Arizona Desert at Nearly 100 m.p.h.

A 24' Hallett Day Cruiser capable of 95 m.p.h.
Speedboat speed runs on 
Lake Havasu

It is hard to believe that smack dab in the middle of the Arizona desert you can find a lake so large, a speedboat can hit nearly 100 m.p.h. It's true and Lake Havasu is a long deep lake formed by the Parker Dam construction in 1934. The resulting lake has 450 miles of shoreline.

The city that sprung up in the desert around the lake, is Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The city was developed by Robert McCulloch who owned McCulloch motors and originally thought the lake was ideal for testing outboard boat motors. Lake Havasu's claim to fame is the London Bridge that was reconstructed on dry land and a channel then dug underneath the structure. Over 50,000 American and British people attended the grand opening in 1971. I was fortunate to be one of the people attending the opening with my parents, that makes it a special place for me.

The 24' Hallett is even larger on the trailer.
Enough history, lets get on the water! My hot tip for launching a boat is to stay away from the island, anywhere on the island will be busy and you can expect long lines. The Lake Havasu State Park which is just north of the island offering shorter lines, great parking and an easy ramp. There is a fee, however it is very reasonable.

Depending on the type of boat (Jet Drive or Prop Drive) you can make a choice of heading up river or down river. Up river provides a change of scenery with sand dunes and curvy channels. When you head up river you must be sure the water height is up as the sandbars will be bad for anything but a jet drive boat. Everyone can find an entire day of fun down river with great picnic areas, water skiing for miles and a dam with restaurants and docks.

My last Havasu outing started early with stops along the way for relaxing on the beaches and meeting other outdoor and water enthusiasts. There are places to stop with picnic areas and some just beaches, others offer camping areas. Making my way down to the dam it was late after lunch by the time we docked.

When I maneuvered the 24' day cruiser back onto the lake for the ride back, I quickly realized that the surface was like glass. As I neared the city area, a flat bottom race boat with a huge blower motor pulled alongside my 45 m.p.h. cruise. I decided it was adventure time and squeezed the throttle a slight bit and kept with the flat bottom. The well tanned man with flowing hair looked at me and then at his passenger, it was on. He gave more throttle and so did I, then again and again. His in your face motor that bulged from the hull and blinded you from the chrome screamed. My boat much more subtle is a sleeping giant, exhaust directed below the water to muffle the hulking horsepower hidden under the deck.

At the point the two tanned guys in the flat bottom were bouncing side-to-side and the bow of the boat was slapping the waters surface repeatedly they both had eyes wide open. One had his hands clinched on the steering wheel and the other the grab handle. The driver of the flat bottom was maxxed out and I happily had more horsepower to spare. I again pushed the throttles and my boat lurched ahead with a bounce and sideways lightness at 96m.p.h.

The sun was setting and a picture perfect sky was cast over the lake as we idled into the channel. Quickly, the flat bottom floated alongside and both men shouted from their chapped lips at the same time; "what in the hell is in that boat?". I replied calmly that it was mostly stock and with shock they replied that I was full of s@#t. I confessed that the Hallett had a highly modified Paul Pfaff drive line and was purposely designed to be a sleeper. We grinned and idled to the beach for beers and admiring looks at each others boats.

Just another day on Lake Havasu, where I have seen everything including a sea plane  land on the lake, unload jet skis and after a day load them and fly off into the horizon.

Plan a long weekend and stay at a major chain hotel, the cheap hotels are just that, horrible. There are plenty of small bars, restaurants and eateries. It gets stupid busy in the Summer months, but remember it's open year around and the desert is great in the Winter, Spring and Fall.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Wall of Water That Borders the United States and Canada - Niagara Falls State Park

The falls New York side from Maid of the Mist.
Niagara Falls State Park, New York

I had always heard of the Niagara Falls when growing up. It was a place spoke of on T.V., films and in conversation. I realized that it was an incredible place that nature had created for our marvel. What I didn't realize was that the falls would utterly leave me awe-struck.

I visited the park on a Summer day in mid July when the weather was ideal. I was reminded more than once by park rangers, that I was experiencing the falls on a perfect day and I couldn't disagree.

Upon arrival to the park, I was pleasantly surprised at the admission price to ride the "Maid of the Mist". The cost, less than $20, included the ride up to the falls and through the mist. Upon return from the boat ride you can choose to hike up to the side of the falls and get thoroughly drenched. The elevator structure also has two wonderful viewing decks and all is included in the admission price.

The Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the United States and it represents very well. You will find a variety of trails, seating areas and shops. Plan a very long day or two if you have the time. The park is open year around, but the "Maid of the Mist" closes each season in early November.

The bridge that spans from New York to Canada
If you have your passport plan to travel across to the Canadian side. The Canadian side offers more than views from another angle. The Canadian side has a wonderful city with hotels, restaurants and historic buildings.

My adventure to Niagara Falls was certainly worth the drive. I hate the cold, but for some reason I want to see these marvelous falls frozen. It would be like a huge frozen cocktail.

©Fanshaw 2015