Area 51 Drive Thru

One place I never had on my agenda for vacation destinations last week, was Area 51.  It didn’t even come to mind when I thought of Nevada, so when we headed North out of Las Vegas to spend the weekend in the mountains at a friend’s house….. that’s exactly where I thought we were headed… to a friends house.  It wasn’t until I saw the GPS and noticed we were on Extraterrestrial Highway !

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It was shortly after then when I looked up and I SAW AN ALIEN !!!!!

 

 

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It was a kooky little store inside a metal shed that sold a lot of T-shirt with UFOs and sci-fi related items.  Probably in a metal building so as to keep the aliens from sucking people out and into their space ship. 

Just beyond that we reached the small town of Rachel, Nevada

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The history of Rachel is that it was a town that grew up around a tungsten mine, which closed in 1988.  The town of 500 quickly dwindled to around 50 today. It became a hot bed of activity for UFOs and quickly became a destination for fans and believers.  Area 51 and the Air Force’s top secret base.  We think this was the road to Area 51, but it’s obviously not going to be marked. 

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We made a loop around a ranch in the main area of Rachel before continuing on our journey.   In my defense, I usually take pictures and look at them later.  I didn’t see that this sign said photography prohibited.

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 It was exciting at the time, but I became a big baby chicken when we considered driving up the road to Area 51 the next day on the way home.  I really got freaked out and didn’t want to go.  I was afraid that if were were stopped by the feds, they might be having a bad day and not just let us turn around. So for now this was exciting enough for me.  

 

This is a funky video that I had seen several years ago, but still like to watch.  I know that guy was confusing Air Force 1 with Area 51.  That’s what makes the video even more hilarious. 

Maggie’s Hollywood ! !

Hollywood Sign

I recently returned from a 2-week vacation to the west coast.  One week was spent in California and the second week was spent in Las Vegas with a friend.  When I was in California I had the opportunity to do only  a very little star searching as I only spent a few hours in Los Angeles and Hollywood.  Hardly significant time to get the full effect.

I spent over an hour pacing up and down the sidewalk taking pictures of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is a list of all the starts I took.  The most important to me were of course The Monkees, Kermit, Jim Henson and the Muppets.  It was also neat to find all the stars for the cast of The Dick Van Dyke show (one of my all time favorites).

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Here is a full list of Walk of  Fame Stars that I took pictures of:

Hollywood Walk of Fame Stars

Halle Berry
Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford
Donald Trump
Jerry Lewis
Jackie Chan
Gilda Radner
Edgar Bergen
Tony Curtis
Telly Savalas
Bert Lancaster
Jan & Mickey Rooney
Vivien Leigh
Ray Charles
BB King
Lindsay Wagner
Bing Crosby
Sally Field
Will Ferrell
Rosanne
Sammy Kaye
Eddie Cantor
Ingrid Bergman
Kermit
Mellisa Etheridge
William Shatner
Glenn Miller
The Munchkins
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Elton John
Jack Nicholson
Micky Mouse
Herb Alpert
Hugh Jackman
Paul Williams
Pen & Teller
Phyllis Diller
Bugs Bunny
Alfred Hitchcock
Dick Van Dyke
Randy Travis
Nicolas Cage
James Doohan
Charlie Sheen
Brooks & Dunn
Ricardo Montalban
Bob Hope
Big Bird
Patrick Stewart
Richard Dreyfuss
DeForest Kelley
Kelsey Grammer
Cindy Williams
Penny Marshall
Michael J. Fox
Mary Tyler Moore
The Simpsons
Charles M. Schulz
Walt Disney
John Denver
Ray Parker Jr.
Sidney Poitier
Rose Marie
Don Knotts
George & Ira Gershwin
Irving Berlin
Spanky McFarland
Elvis
The Beatles
Kiss
Clint Black
Etta James
Charles Champlin
New Kids On The Block
Stan Lee
Ethel Merman
Tom Hanks
Vivian Vance
Jerry Stiller & Anne Mera
Woody Woodpecker
Chuck Norris
Tony Danza
Lionel Hampton
Ted Turner
Alice Cooper
The Mills Brothers
Jean Harlow
Hans Zimmer
Burgess Meredith
Morey Amsterdam
Rod Serling
Ron Howard
The Muppets
Garry Marshall
Linda Evans
Ray Bolger
Steve McQueen
Danny Kaye
Winnie the Pooh
The Andrew Sisters
Spencer Tracy
Claudette Colbert
Ozzy Osboure
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Judy Garland
Adam West
Fred Astaire
Ella Fitzgerald
George M Cohan
Bob Barker
Ed Harris
Sylvester Stallone
James Cameron
Bob Eubanks
Herb Jeffries
George Burns
Gracie Allen
John Lithgow
Guy Lombardo
Burnett
Boris Karloff
Raymond Bur
Peter Falk
Errol Flynn
Jack Benny
Rip Taylor
Al Jolson
Frank Capra
Will Rogers
Jamie Lee Curtis
Mister Rogers
Dr. Seuss
Pee-Wee Herman
Orson Wells
Frank Sinatra
Alfred Hitchcock
James Cagney
Jim Henson
Perry Como
Nichelle Nichols
Tommy Dorsey
The Monkees
George Takei
Gene Roddenberry
Harry James
George Reeves
Betty White
Allen Ludden

I did visit Grouman’s Chinese Theater (now known as TCL Chinese Theather).  If given the opportunity I would have photographed all the prints and autographs in cement, but there were tons of other tourists milling about and their feet were covering much of what I wanted to photograph.  I felt kind of naive in that the first cement slab I wanted to find was John Wayne because of the famous I Love Lucy episode where she stole it and then tried several times to replace it.  To my slight disappointment…. John Wayne’s slab did not look like the one on Lucy.  I don’t know what I was thinking  🙂  Here’s a slide show of a sampling of stars

 

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The other bit of star gazing I did was actually in a cemetery.  I have visited cemeteries in the past as a vacation destination for Presidents (Washington, Lincoln, Fillmore, Wilson, Kennedy) and for historical figures (some local history, some general American history), but I had never been to a “celebrity” grave site before.  While Forest Lawn is the place most associated with Hollywood, I had no plans for that plot of land.  I wanted to “see”  and pay my respects to 2 pretty significant people in my life; and those being Richard Dawson and Bob Crane.  How fitting that they were both buried in the same place.  I’m a big planner when I go on vacation so I had a list of internment’s and a general idea of where they were located.

I started out at the top of the cemetery and began walking up and down the rows one by one.  The first gravestone I saw was for Don Knotts.  His had so many engraved pictures from his most memorable roles.  It read, “He saw the poignancy in people’s pride and pain and turned it into something hilarious and endearing.  He will always be Deptuy Fife to me.  ❤

I walked further and saw Mel Torme, Eva Gabor, Natalie Wood and Louis Jourdan before I found Bob Crane’s grave.  I had seen what the stone looked like on the internet before, but when it sneaks up on you like that, I was surely taken by surprise.  It was if I had actually been standing before him because just like other celebrities I got real nervous and quickly took a picture and moved on before I started crying.  His had a nice poem at the bottom. The stone was divided in two sections, his on the left and his last wife Sigrid Valdis on the right.

I found other memorials for Karl Malden, Walter Matthau, Merv Griffin, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Lemmon, Carroll O’Connor (A favorite of mine), Peter Falk, Jim Backus (Mr. Howell !!!!) , Marilyn Monroe (fans kiss her grave stone leaving lipstick marks) and Jack Klugman (another one of my favorites).  I stood there perplexed that I couldn’t find what I was looking for.  I stepped under a tree and pulled out my phone to connect to the internet to try and figure out where Richard was placed.

All I had to work off of was a picture.  I could see a white building in the background, a sideways facing bench and 2 planted pots.  I felt like I was looking at a treasure map.  With those clues in hand I was about ready to put my phone in my pocket when I got a text message….. I’m sure I’ve mentioned (if you haven’t already heard it) that my text tone is Richard Dawson calling my name 3 times.

The entire time I was in the cemetery, there was a woman sitting next (and talking) to a grave at the very edge of the park so I had been courteous not to go over in that area.  (This cemetery has both regular and Hollywood graves)  I took my clues and headed in that near direction.  I found the bench, I saw the pots not far ahead.  And then two steps in front of me I found what I was looking for.

I knelt down in shock and before I knew it, my head was in my hands and I was sobbing.  It was like the reality of him not being here anymore had sunk in.  There was no one there to give me a kiss, hold my hand to  make me feel calm.  After a few minutes and leaving my own memorial, I stood up and did what I could to wipe my eyes and nose with my shirt.  I could see Bob from where I was standing and that made me smile so I walked back over there again with more confidence.  It was getting late in the morning, as I had a reservation to go horseback riding in the Hollywood hills so I had to leave.

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It wasn’t my intention, but on the last day of my vacation, a week later, I decided I had to come back one more time.  Not so much to find the other celebrities that I didn’t see the first time such as Dean Martin, but to say goodbye one more time.  This time I was able to walk directly over to Richard’s grave.  Bob’s was a bit more challenging as the sprinkler was on and despite my attempt to dodge it, I got soaked.

Here is a short montage of the photos I took at the cemetery

 

Horse Diaries

I’ve had this book for many years- and it still is my wish

“I can’t remember exactly when I started linking horses… so I’ll just say it’s been forever!”  That’s what I told the lady when I visited the Fantasy Hills Ranch in Delavan, Wisconsin a few weeks ago.  She wanted to know my skill level, and it even shocked me to say I had been riding off and on for almost 25 years.  It made me start to want to find out the answer to that question for my own curiosity.

I searched through my baby photo albums (even my sisters)  because I know somewhere there exists a picture of me in a red cowboy hat, and vest with my stick horse and I’m so young that I’m still in front of my crib.  The picture has vanished though like on Back to the Future.  I remember bringing it out sometime in the past two decades for someone who wanted to post baby pictures for a guessing contest. (I sure hope I gave them a copy!)  Anyway, if I was near my crib that had to have been close enough for me to say I’ve always loved horses.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Here is the proof !

This is a picture of me at West Allis Western Days.  Gee I love pony rides ! Ha ! Just kidding, I’d be in trouble if that was a pony I was sitting on.  I would have to guess that I was about 6 years old…

Because in this picture I was 9 years old. Precisely, it was December 5, 1987, and that massive crowd behind me was preventing me from meeting Davy Jones at a book signing at Mayfair Mall.  And so, in turn, I had to prevent myself from crying.  We stood for hours in a line that wasn’t moving, and I couldn’t even see him on stage over the crowd.  Mom took this last picture of me with the book and my Monkey, George, and we went home.  Still, I have an autograph that my cousin got for me framed on my wall.  It looks like it says Maggie Love, but it actually reads      Maggie    Love, David Jones.

Wait a minute here… how did this post go from talking about horses to talking about Monkees ??  Well because after I found out how much Davy loved horses, then I wanted to as well.  That leads me to a completely different thought for a post on how a person grows into who they are and how they come to know things. 

I had a photocopy of this picture of Davy from his book, framed on my wall.  I wanted to be a jockey too. 

See also my related post Me Without You  on Davy’s passing. 

Davy Jones passed away Feb 29th, 2012 from an heart attack. He was 66.  

Wild dreams for a kid in a middle class family in suburban Wisconsin.  I had no means of being around horses unless they came to town with a fair, nor was I old enough to realize it wasn’t necessarily a sport for girls.  I never did gain much height, but as I got older my frame no longer fit what would be suitable for a jockey’s stature.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photograph to chronicle each time I rode, but I wish I did.

The first time I really got to ride a horse was the next year.  It was a guided trail ride through the woods in Hayward, Wisconsin (Northwestern region) and my dad went with me the one time.  In answer to your question… no I hardly ever took that shirt off.

Look at the prices !! $5.50 for 35 min  $10.00 for two hours

At age 13, I returned again, and my feet almost reach. 

 

In the in-between times, we had found a stable in Racine, Wisconsin, on 7 Mile road, that gave trail rides, partly through the woods and up along the rim of a hill that overlooked Lake Michigan.  I remember going there whenever the opportunity arose.  There was a Rifle Club shooting range next door that my dad belonged to so, when I went with him shooting, I would try to convince him to let me go riding.  I remember one time that I must have been there so often that the owner asked me if I wanted to go along the path alone because he recognized that I had been there before.  No one else was there to ride and he was busy.

They closed eventually, and circumstances prevented me from going back to Hayward where by Grandpa had a cabin.

The next picture I have is when I was 18 years old.  Perhaps in early January 1997.  This is in Scottsdale, Arizona and my friend’s mother’s horse.  If she remembers the name, please share it.

 

This is probably my favorite picture.  I remember my horse’s name was Deuce.  This was taken by a professional photographer as a courtesy to guests at the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona.  January 11, 2001.

Just before this in 1995 Christopher Reeve (Superman) had his crippling accident when he was thrown from his horse during competition and was paralyzed for life.  I began to notice a change at most of the stables.  We wouldn’t trot or cantor anymore.  It was strictly walking and you wore a helmet.  An example of how cowboy hats were traded in.   October 10, 2006.  Rock Creek Parkway, Washington DC.

 

I was on my way to the Taylor Home Inn (A bed and breakfast made up to look like the Andy Griffith Show House) October 2, 2010, when I found a place called Red Ridge Ranch in Mauston, Wisconsin just north of the Wisconsin Dells.  I had just taken an hour trail ride in the Dells, but I couldn’t pass up the charm of this ranch.  It was decked out in Halloween décor and harvest accents.  A decent, muddy ride with my horse Kendell.  Only a slight trot to get out of the mud and up a minor incline.

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 As you can see, I’ve been able to ride horses in a variety of places providing a wide range of scenery.  I think by far, my favorite so far was a ride I shared with my best friend on August 13, 2011 at the Holman Ranch in Carmel, California.  My horse, Dooley, and I rode through the vineyards, up the side of a mountain, along a path where cattle were grazing.  It was so beautiful and so quintessentially cowboy, that I was actually more interested in taking pictures of the landscape than of the horses.  Luckily Chris was there to snap a few pictures of me and grey-haired Dooley.

 

Oh how I longed to do that again.  On the recommendation of a friend, I tried the Fantasy Hills Ranch this past August 31st where my story started out.  Just a silhouette of me and Wyatt this time.  It was an hour long ride, which is pretty standard anywhere. 

Me and Wyatt before heading out

However, this place offers all day 30 mile rides.  I wanted to do that, and I came back three days later on Labor Day, September 3, 2012 to do so.  I arrived at the ranch at 9 am, but after getting the horses and driving to the entrance of the forest, we started out close to 11:00 am.  We rode 15 miles through the Kettle Moraine State Forest and then stopped for a late lunch.  We didn’t return to our vehicles until 6:30 that night. 

My horse’s name this time was Maks (I choose to spell it Maks, instead of Max by personal choice…. I really don’t know how they do it) and he was a handful.   I will never forget him.  To begin with, he got us in trouble for eating most of a baby shrub.  Maks was so much bigger than me that I had blisters on my hands from trying to pull the reigns to get his head up.  He was just too strong.  Even when I sensed he was reaching out or down for some leaves along the way and I tried to stop him in advance, the tug-o-war between us was always lost on my side.  It was not for lack of trying to show him who the boss was, I just couldn’t do it. 

Fantasy Hills Ranch was different from the other places for a few reasons.  On the all day ride, they didn’t have a platform so you had to put your foot in the stirrup and get up on the horse on your own.  Well, remember I didn’t grow too tall…. Even at this age, I’m still shootin’ for five feet actually.  I had the hardest time trying to get on.  I thought it might have been easier for me to climb a building and jump off into the saddle instead of starting on the ground.

Anyway, it was also different because every place I had gone before, they always stressed riding single file.  Not here.  We were three wide, and the horses were always walking so close to each other.  Oh yea, Maks had a problem with biting the butts of the horses in front of him.  He wanted to be in charge of everything !

There were 5 of us on this trail plus the guide to make 6.  Six gals out for fun, adventure and relaxation.  Both were mother/daughter pairs, but they also had some experience so there was no doubt that the guide said we would be doing more than just walking. 

What was so awesome about our guide is that she didn’t mind if we had our cameras with us, and I think she could sense we were responsible enough to multi-task.  Once she even offered to take the camera.  While we were running, she put it on video and recorded a few seconds of it.  She said it was her pleasure to be able to see the excitement and joy on our faces and wanted us to see it too. 

For me it was just that.  After the Christopher Reeve incident I didn’t believe I would ever be able to know the thrill of racing a horse again, and now that I was bigger and able to handle it better, I desired it even more.  Still, I was uncertain I was able to handle it and control Maks.  Sure I’ve rambled quite extensively about how long I had been riding horses, but trail horses are so different because they know where to go and don’t need much direction from the rider.   We were told the horses get quite excited in the Kettle Moraine forest because it was a treat for them to be away from the ranch.

The fear type of adrenaline ran through my body, and I pictured myself going headfirst over Maks.  But in all the years of riding, back when it was ok to do more than walk, no one ever told me that it would be better to hold on with one hand to the back seat part of the saddle to keep you in place.  A totally invaluable tip.  The first run we did was not very long.  It was just to get us used to it.  The first one was fear.  And of course I couldn’t help but think about Davy Jones and back to my childhood dreams.   

As a horse runs, think of it as a game of tag with the wind. ~ Tre Tuberville

The second run was pure enjoyment.  It gave me such a feeling of excitement that I was near tears of joy when we stopped.  I believed that nothing could possibly feel better than this speed.  Not a motorcycle or NASCAR, or even jumping out of a plane.  It was the best feeling in the world!! Riding side by side by side, running through the trees, with such a feeling of freedom and togetherness at the same time.  But of course, Maks, wants to be in charge and starts to want to pass the guide so we had to stop.  Probably my fault because I wasn’t paying attention to how close I was getting. 

Hey, it just dawned on me now!!! My horse would have won the race !  If we were racing and the guide hadn’t stopped it so I couldn’t win.   The challenge didn’t end with not bouncing completely out of the saddle though.  After lunch, on the way back, she took us running on paths that were curved and we had to be sure not to lean into the curve or we’d fall. 

This is the video she shot from her horse, looking back on me.  If you can handle not getting motion sickness from the video, it’s only about 40 seconds long. 

I can’t wait to save up and do it again next year !  I’m sure there will be much more riding in my future as well.

Please take a moment to check out the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund where  funds will be raised to support the former Monkees’ favorite charity.  The DJEMF was created in loving memory & to protect and care for the horses Davy loved. Jones was an avid horseman and this charity ensures the continuing care of the horses he so loved.  Your donation at this time will go towards day to day care of the horses.  The DJEMF is a registered non profit organisation.   

Payment by Check or Money Order should be made payable to “Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund” P.O. Box 31244, Santa Barbara, CA 93130

30 Days of Creativity ~~ Revisited Week 5

It certainly has been out of the realm of 30 days with in which I was supposed to complete this photography creativity challenge, but I’m going to do it anyway !

Day 21: Doodle Something  and Document It

This isn’t quite your typical doodle.  I was working through my design for a new craft- wedding card.

Day 22: Explore a Neglected Body Part

 

 

Day 23: Transform Something Boring or Mundane into Something Interesting 

Gee, how can I accurately depict my job?  Well, just parts of it.  A lot of what I do involves putting unique index values on digital images for computer retrieval later.  So I try to make it fun and less mindless…. or maybe I’m glad it’s a mindless task because it gives me more time to daydream.

           This is a list of all the batches that have been scanned and are waiting to be indexed

 

Sample page of images to index. Usually a piece of information on the bill is used as a look up for corresponding information in a table that will populate the remaining fields on the left side.

How can I transform this from boring or mundane into something interesting?

Well you can play little games like  pretend your on a game show and try to get so many images done in a set length of time and have to work to beat that time.

Also, you can pretend you are encoding secret spy files and the encryption needs to be done before the enemy transfers all the data, thereby stealing your secrets, unless you get the files indexed immediately !!

Showcase your typing ability by not making any keystroke errors.

Day 24: Capture Something Vibrant

Tulips planted in front of City Hall downtown

Day 25: Capture Something in Black and White

I happened upon this house when I failed to properly follow County Hwy ES one day.  Realizing before I got too lost, I made a U-turn, but not before I found this house.  The bicycle by the white picket fence caught my eye.  It reminded me of a typical serene Sunday in a small town.

Here are links to previous weeks

Week 1

Week 2