Making Good Time

Every time we took a road trip when I was a kid, my dad was hell bent on making good time. I have no idea what that was about and it remains a mystery to this day. This was before anybody ever heard the saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” For my dad it was all about the destination and the faster he could get us there, the better. I think he even kept track of his past records and tried to shatter them every time we hit the road. Whenever he did, he was proud as a peacock.

We never got to stop anywhere, either. Oh, hell no, that was forbidden, like it was against the law or something. One weekend we were driving to my grandparents’ house in the mountains and we passed an A&W Root Beer stand. My brothers and I shouted out in unison, “Dad, can we stop at the A&W, pleeeeze?” Dad said, “No, but we can stop at the G&G.” We gave each other that puzzled look and then asked, “What’s the G&G?” and he said, “Grandma and Grandpa’s.” Oh, you should have heard the groans in the back seat.

Now when I take a road trip, I vacillate between wanting to make good time and enjoying the journey along the way. It’s hard to undo the training I had as a kid, but I’m working on it. Last Fall I took a road trip with a friend and, as we drove toward the mountains, we were trying to figure out where to stop for lunch. I was driving, so she Googled. She found an In & Out Burger (her favorite) near the same exit we were going to take anyway, but it was on the opposite side of the freeway from the exit ramp and out of our way. I paused for a moment and then those memories of my dad flashed through my mind. I had a choice to make and, with a decision that would have troubled my dad, we drove out of the way and stopped at In & Out and had a nice, leisurely lunch. We didn’t make good time, but we enjoyed the journey (and a burger) along the way. I can just hear him saying, “Oh, what a shame, you were making such good time.”

Written by Susan 5/24/18

The Wild West is Alive and Well in Virginia City

Years ago when I lived in Dayton, Nevada, I agreed to meet a friend for dinner in Virginia City. We set a plan to meet at the well-known Bucket of Blood Saloon for a drink before dinner. I got there early, found a seat at the corner of the bar and ordered a drink. While I waited for my friend, I noticed that the Native American fellow sitting next to me was pretty drunk.

The band, which was set up on the dance floor next to the window, started playing a patriotic song, and the guy next to me took offense that a cowboy on the dance floor didn’t take off his hat in reverence. At least that was the story I heard after what happened next.

He got up and walked down the bar toward the window to the dance floor and without warning sucker punched the hat-wearing cowboy. In what seemed like a nano-second, five cowboys grabbed the Native American guy, dragged him alongside the bar right in front of my face and threw him outside onto the wooden sidewalk. And just like in the movies, they dusted off their hands, came back inside and that was the end of that.

Written by Susan 5/14/18

Let There Be Light

As I ran my errands today, I made a quick stop at Ace Hardware to buy some light bulbs. It was anything but quick. As I stood in the two-sided, 50-ft. long light bulb aisle, I had that puzzled look on my face, enough that the Ace Hardware guy came over and asked if he could help.

I soon entered an alternate world, a sort of “Light Bulbs 101,” instruction for dummies like me who haven’t been shopping for light bulbs lately and haven’t a clue about new light bulb technology. Apparently, you have to have a PhD. to understand this stuff.

There’s incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED, oh my. And it helps if you know about watts and lumens, tubes and electrodes, phosphor and diodes, semiconductors, filaments, halogen and HID. And what about the color of your bulb? Do you want soft white, warm, bright or daylight? Oh, and if your bulb is going to be used with a dimmer switch, then you have to take “Dimmer Switch Bulbs 101.” Manufacturers have even created bulbs that turn on and off with voice recognition. Who knew. But I miss the days when a light bulb was just a light bulb.

I’m reminded of the longest burning light bulb in history which is still burning in Fire Station #6 in Livermore. It’s known as the “Centennial Light,” located at 4550 East Avenue, maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Dept. That bulb has been burning for 117 years and has only been turned off a handful of times. It’s even marked in the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe it or not. Now, that’s a light bulb!

Click here to watch Livermore’s Centennial “Bulb Cam.”

Written by Susan 5/2/18