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Archive for October, 2018

HAPPY HALLOWEEN: A Couple Movie Suggestions

A couple days ago, I was flipping channels looking for something fun to watch with a Halloween theme.  I could not find a Twilight Zone marathon—that would have been great. And no channel was showing all the epic Halloween episodes from the old Roseanne show.  The Great Pumpkin was not even on.  I did stumble upon a movie: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison.  It was fun.

I decided that I would find some movies on my own to watch for Halloween.  Of course, that is not as easy as it sounds since I avoid the classics like Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Child’s Play. I am not crazy about blood, gore, zombies, maniacs wielding hatchets and knives—all that fun stuff.  I like scary movies that are more like Twilight Zone episodes.  Movies that make you think, creep you out, explore the supernatural as part of everyday life.  Humor would be nice too.

The first movie I thought of was Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).  It replicates one of my favorite episodes from the television show: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”  The original episode starred William Shatner while the movie version stars John Lithgow.  There are three more episodes in the movie. The opening and closing sequences of the movie are fun too. Here is a shortened version of the movie’s opening for your enjoyment!

Of course, if you want to be really scared, just watch the news lately.  Or pay attention to all the political ads for the upcoming midterm election. Instead, I suggest you relax with a good movie. Here are the rest of the movies I suggest you could watch to celebrate Halloween, in no special order. I expect you have probably seen most of these already.  Most can be rented on Amazon.

The Thing (1982, this remake is better than the original): Basically, it is an alien invasion movie set in a cold, cold, cold science station.  The alien was buried in the ice for 100,000 years and (once thawed) starts taking over people one at a time.

Misery (1990):  A woman who loves to read meets her favorite author, helping him when he is in a terrible accident near her home.  Then things go a little crazy.  She really, really wants him to not kill off his main character.  Stephen King is the author.  The main character seems normal, mostly. Until she doesn’t.

Poltergeist (1982): A typical middle-class family living in suburbia starts experiencing some odd behaviors around the house that at first are fascinating: chairs move, the dog responds to no one there, stuff like that.  Then things go really wrong and supernatural experts are called in to save the day.  They are not altogether successful.  (A minor message is to be wary of what messages come through the television.)

Arachnophobia (1990):  Does anybody really like spiders?  I find them fascinating but still do not want them crawling all over me.  This movie looks at the invasion of killer spiders in a calm country town.  Experts are called in when deaths start mounting up.  Cool photography. Great bit part by John Goodman.

Ghost (1990):  A couple in love keeps the relationship going, even after he dies.  Well, he tries to contact her anyway with the help of a psychic.  Murder and mayhem as part of a love story. Plus it stars Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg.

The Sixth Sense (1999):  Whether you have seen this movie or not, you have probably heard the tagline:  “I see dead people.”  A young boy has the ability to see the departed (yes, ghosts) who really just need his help.  A psychologist helps him deal with his “gift.”  Of course, the doctor needs some help too.  It stars Bruce Willis, but there are no guns or car chases.

Signs (2002):  This movie is set in Anywhere, USA in a farming community.  The family is grieving the loss of the wife/mother.  Then some strange things start happening, expanding the questions about life and faith and finding a way to deal with odd happenings, like a space invasion.  It is ultimately a life-affirming movie.

Young Frankenstein (1974):  This is a great re-telling of the original story with scenes reminiscent of some of the classic movies. It is a Mel Brooks’ movie—what else can I say? Other than that, there are some great musical numbers too.

Coco (2017):  This cartoon is a great family-oriented movie that celebrates family, living and dead.  It really focuses on the Day of the Dead celebration, but it works for me as a movie for my list.  If you have not watched this one yet, it really is incredible.

That’s my list.  Maybe you will watch one of these while you hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Or watch one while you ignore trick-or-treaters.  I don’t ignore the kids, but none come to my door anymore.  [Not because of anything I have done!  They just do not come anymore.] Oh, don’t forget to eat some candy.  Any kind will do, even candy corn.  But I would always suggest anything chocolate.

Finally, I want to share these two videos with you as a Halloween treat. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

What are you doing to celebrate this odd candy-filled holiday?

On the Road: Looking for Fall Color

“There are no days so delightful as those of a fine October.”   Alexander Smith

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”   Jim Bishop

I live in Bakersfield, which sits roughly in the middle of California.  This year has been a hot one.  Most summers, we average 126 days of 100+ degrees, but this year there were more than 150 days.  Fall weather offered unusually high temperatures as well.  It is technically fall, but it does not feel like it. The trees about town that typically offer some fall colors have been slow in putting on their show.  Except for one little tree in my neighborhood.  Although it stands less than 10 feet tall, it has boldly offered vivid red leaves to remind us all that fall is in the air.

That little tree encouraged me to take my annual trek to find fall colors. Some years, I head up to Bishop while others I visit Yosemite. This year, I decided I would travel to both locations, figuring I would see some fall colors somewhere en route.  Of course, even if I didn’t find fall foliage, the drive itself always offers wonderful views.  It is just great to be on the road again!

My first day was an easy four-hour drive from Bakersfield to Bishop. The drive up the Kern River Canyon via Highway 178 initially showed sporadic bits of color.

Eventually, the golden blooms of Rabbitbrush wandered along the highway along with the occasional tree or bush in bloom.

The juncture of Highway 178 and Highway 14 (which soon becomes Highway 395) offered some great views as usual. I love the clouds!

Once traveling on Highway 395, I was I took a short detour near Lone Pine to enjoy the Alabama Hills and a view of Mt. Whitney.

 

Lone Pine offered some quick glimpses of fall colors as well.

Back on Highway 395, heading toward Bishop, fall colors started punctuating the landscape as the sun started to set.

These red-winged black birds did not readily pose for the camera.  The spotted one is a juvenile.

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A Few Quotes about the Joys of the Open Road

“Roads were made for journeys not destinations.”   Confucious

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”   Jack Kerouac

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep rolling under the stars.”  Jack Kerouac

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”  John Muir

“Still around the corner, there may wait a new road or a secret gate.”  J. R. R. Tolkien

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road. . .unless you fail to make the turn.”   Helen Keller

“I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.”  Walt Whitman

“Only one who wanders finds new paths.”  Norwegian Proverb

“It’s always best to start at the beginning. And all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.”  Glinda, the Good Witch of the North

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to learn.”  Hans Christian Andersen

 

Memories of Summer: Tioga Pass Road (August 2017)

Super Bloom 2017 was truly magnificent!  I took several little trips around California that spring, enjoying the wondrous blooms that seemed to be almost everywhere:  Carrizo Plain, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and California Poppy Preserve were some of my favorite stops. I visited Yosemite National Park in June, hoping to see some wildflowers there as well.  My first stop was Yosemite Valley.

For the rest of that Yosemite trip, I had planned to drive across Tioga Pass Road to see what might be in bloom.  The road closes for winter every year, usually opening again by late May, so I did not foresee travel problems.  In 2017, however, the road did not open until the end of June.  Thus, my plan for driving over the pass had to wait.

I tried again in August on a beautiful sunny day, and the drive was wonderful.  The route started near the Big Crane Flat Road, taking Highway 120 east, traveling about 90 miles from Yosemite Valley to the Eastern Entrance to Yosemite. The initial easy ascent into the mountains showcased some great wildflowers.

As the elevation increased, the flowers gave way to trees, rocky hillsides, and eventually open vistas.

Olmstead Point is always a great place to stop and park.  There are even some short hikes that start from this parking area.  The views are incredible. I especially liked the big boulders that seem to be randomly scattered across the hills like marbles, awaiting for someone to come back and play.

Moving further east, Lake Tenaya came up alongside the road.  It is the largest natural lake in Yosemite National Park that is so close to a roadside.  If you take the time to stop and explore, there are some hikes in the area as well.

 

Highway 120 finally travels past Toulumne Meadows, my favorite part of the drive.  This sub-alpine meadow sits 8,755 feet high.  Although flowers were not extensive, the meadows were beautiful and expansive.

 

At various stops along the meadow, I took some videos to capture the panoramic sense of the meadows.

Moving beyond Tuolumne Meadows, the route finally reached Tioga Pass, at an elevation of 9.943 feet. Then it was a steep decline the six miles to the Eastern Entrance. The road passed Tioga Lake before connecting with Highway 395.

 

ANY DAY ANYWHERE IN YOSEMITE IS A GOOD DAY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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