October 12, 2017

Reverse Logic?

California has a new law that will increase the punishment for some crimes if they are recorded on video. Here's the business part of the new law: "667.95. In sentencing a person convicted of a violent felony listed in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5, the court may consider, as a factor in aggravation, that the defendant willfully recorded a video of the commission of the violent felony with the intent to encourage or facilitate the offense."

But those videos have been helpful in getting convictions and lengthening sentences. Why do we want to discourage that? I'm all for some additional punishment if the video is made public, but if it's not made public what's the reason for an enhanced sentence?

permalink | October 12, 2017 at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2017

New Twist For The Cadiz Water Project

It has been determined that the state owns a parcel of land that the pipeline would cross.

The parcel is a tiny piece of the millions of acres that Congress in 1853 granted to California for the benefit of public education. The state sold most of the so-called schools lands but still owns desert tracts controlled by the commission.

[State Lands] Commission spokeswoman Sheri Pemberton said the state never sold the 200-foot-wide strip because in 1910 California granted a railroad right-of-way over it. Now, the commission says Cadiz needs a state lease to use that portion of the right-of-way for the water pipeline.

permalink | October 9, 2017 at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2017

Ivan Sewell New Commissioner At MSWD

With a unanimous vote, the MSWD board selected Ivan Sewell to take John Furbee's spot on the board until the next election, November 2018. Then, the voters will get a chance to re-elect him to the remaining 2 years of Furbee's term, or elect someone else.
Ivan Sewell Being Sworn In As MSWD Commissioner

The two other candidates were perennial candidate Malcolm MacLean and Steve Grasha. Mr. Grasha is the inventor of the misting system, which is so ubiquitous here in Coachella Valley, if I understood him correctly. He's also working with the Trump campaign in some capacity and said that after the meeting today, he was heading over to Arizona. He seemed a bit reluctant to bring this up, at first saying he had been working for a candidate for "national office." There being only two elected national offices in this country, it wasn't hard to guess who he meant, but it became clearer when he referenced Arizona and said that he knew his views on who is in the President's office were not popular in DHS. He never named Trump.

I have been disappointed with the MSWD board's reluctance to replace Mr. Furbee before he passed away. We could have had Mr. Sewall working for the public good months ago.

permalink | August 21, 2017 at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2017

Los Angeles Neon Tours

Recently I went on two different bus tours offered by the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale. We toured on two Saturday nights, starting at 7:30 PM in downtown Los Angeles. The tours, while mostly about neon, become tours of architecture and history as well as drinking and dining suggestions. The buses rarely stop and stand still just where you want them to, but the surprisingly good image stabilization and fast focusing of one of my cheap Canon cameras managed to produce some good images.

Tower Theater (1024)
Tower Theater, which has been acquired by Apple to become the downtown Apple Store
.

The Last Book Store (1459)
Just like it says, in downtown LA
.

Palace (1537)

Out Of The Closet (1599)

L.A. City Hall (1485B)

KFC (1601)
Neon KFC!

KLYT Entrance (1447)
To my utter surprise, I learned this is the oldest gay bathhouse in LA!
I'd never heard of it before...nor had any of my friends who I asked. Klyt (I don't know what it stands for) opened in the 1920s on 4th Street not as a gay bathhouse, but evolved into one. How this escaped the 1980s, I can't imagine. My fear of bedbugs will keep me from exploring this one, although I'd really like to check it out.

K.G. Louie (1507)

Hotel Rosslyn (1453)

Downtown Los Angeles August 2017 (1488)
The Chinatown Chevron must have the highest prices in the state
. The price at Furnace Creek this day was only $3.069.

Downtown Los Angeles (1464)

Downtown Los Angeles (1440)

Coffee Breakfast (1615)

Chinatown (1510)

Bradbury Building (1437)
The Bradbury Building
.

Angels Flight (1426)
Angels Flight
, which is supposed to return to service in 2018.

2nd Street Tunnel - Los Angeles
2nd Street Tunnel video
. Click through to see the video.

US Bank Building (0899)
Still the tallest building in L.A., IMO
.

Eric Tour Guide (0821)
Eric, the tour guide for the first tour I went on
. The guide for the second tour was also named Eric, but looked a little different.

New Chinatown dates from the 1930s (0855)
"New Chinatown" is Chinatown
, which was moved here in the 1930s to clear way for the construction of Union Station.

Hotel Normandie (0936)

Bend (1010)
"Bendix," of course, but the bus was rolling and by the time I got the camera aimed, this is all I got
.

Axis on 12th (1008)

Mayan Theater (1002)
Mayan Theater

Eastern Clock (1018)

Clifton's Cafeteria (1029)

Bradbury Building New Lights (1046)
The Bradbury Building with its controversial new lighting
.

Main Street Garage (1051)
A parking garage at 4th & Main
. I think it's just art.

The complete sets of photos can be seen here.

permalink | August 11, 2017 at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2017

Dore Alley 2017 Photos

A few photos from this year's Dore Alley ("Up Your Alley") in San Francisco.

Dancers (1289)

Pink Man (1191)

Hug (1400)

Dore Alley was a sausage fest (1082)

Dore Alley (1114)

Dore Alley nude

Dore Alley nude seated

Many more NSFW images available here.

permalink | August 4, 2017 at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2017

Speed Check

If you enjoy watching the military jets over the greater Death Valley area, you may like this story.

permalink | July 17, 2017 at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 30, 2017

Some Photos

Some photos not previously shared.

The Perfect American - Long Beach Opera (3397)
The stage at Long Beach Opera at intermission during The Perfect American
.

Precision Electric Company (3909)
This is not an old sign
.

Pink Barbie (6811)
I've got my eye on this pink Barbie
.

Edward Wenzlaff Education Center (0484)
Edward Wenzlaff Education Center
, formerly Edward Wenzlaff Elemntary School in Desert Hot Springs.

Desert Hot Springs Police (0486)
Like it says on the label
.

permalink | June 30, 2017 at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2017

Queer Burner Retreat

Over Memorial Day weekend I returned to Saratoga Springs, this time for what used to be called the "Queer Burner Retreat," but has been renamed to the meaningless "All Of Us." As a result we got one paying guest who feeling the need for a meditative weekend Googled and found Saratoga Springs, which led her to "All Of Us." She read no further, knowing that she must be one of us. She submitted her credit card and showed up to be rather surprised to find a Burner party underway. She stayed one night and then escaped.

Dan Reeves
Dan Reeves, the artist behind The Journey Project
.

The Journey 43
About one-quarter of the Journey Project
.

The Journey 19

The Journey 20

Home at Saratoga Springs
My little camp
.

Tent View
The view from my tent door
.

Comfort & Joy cabin
The well-known colors of Comfort & Joy, the biggest gay camp at Burning Man
.

Hottub
The jacuzzi, all fresh and clean when I arrived
.

Hottub after a couple of days
After a couple of days of hard use
.

Main Lodge Front Porch - Saratoga Springs
On the front porch of the main lodge
.

Rand Larson & Me
Rand Larson on the left
.

Saratoga Springs 23
A new fire escape and an entirely new deck!

Unicorn Poopie

The complete set of photos can be seen here.

permalink | June 8, 2017 at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2017

Joshua Tree National Park this past weekend

These photos are mostly from Wonder Valley, but some are around Intersection Rock.

Bee & Friend In Wonder Valley (0309)

Intersection Rock (0092)

Joshua Tree National Park - West Entrance (0043)
In line at the West Entrance
.

Joshua Tree National Park (0079)

Joshua Tree National Park (0472)

Mojave Yucca (0460)

New Flower In Wonder Valley (0218)

Rock Climber In Wonder Valley (0271)

Rock Climbers in Wonder Valley (0325)

Wonder Valley (0184)

Wonder Valley (0352)

Wonder Valley (0399)

Wonder Valley (0411)

Wonder Valley (0427)

Wonder Valley (0430)

The complete set of photos is here.

permalink | May 9, 2017 at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2017

To Report Graffiti In Joshua Tree National Park: jotr_graffiti@nps.gov

Joshua Tree National Park as well as many other parks across the country, has experienced a notable increase in visitation in recent years. With that increase also means an increase of graffiti and acts of intentional vandalism within the park. Superintendent David Smith says, “99% of visitors are respectful and truly appreciate the pristine scenery the park has to offer. Unfortunately there are visitors who feel it necessary to damage what Mother Nature has produced."

The park, in its efforts to more closely monitor and mitigate graffiti, is asking for the public’s help and providing some easy ways for visitors to aid in the process. Park officials ask visitors to report incidents of graffiti that they encounter to a new email address, jotr_graffiti@nps.gov. In addition, new graffiti reporting forms will be available at park visitor centers and entrance stations. Keep in mind, when reporting graffiti; to provide a good, detailed description of the location. Photos and GPS coordinates are also very helpful in order to insure a quick response.

Joshua Tree National Park is a magical and unique landscape. Your vigilance and taking a few moments to report graffiti that you happen upon will insure that the park stays that way.

permalink | April 11, 2017 at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2017

Good Nude Bowl Video

permalink | March 29, 2017 at 05:28 PM | Comments (1)

March 13, 2017

Joshua Tree Moonrise

I shot this in Joshua Tree National Park this past Saturday. When you buy (and register) a GoPro camera, you get access to GoPro's library of royalty-free music, including the over-wrought stuff you hear in a lot of GoPro videos. So I thought it might be fun to waste some of that here.

permalink | March 13, 2017 at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2017

P-45: The Studly Mountain Lion King of Malibu

Here's a really interesting New Yorker article about the mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains which run from Malibu to Griffith Park. The highways have isolated this area, in terms of mountain lions traveling. P-45, however, was able to cross a highway to get into this genetic island and sow his genes. The article describes the isolation of the mountain lions which may result in their extinction (in the Santa Monica Mountains) within 50 years...which is why a land bridge is going to be built in Agoura Hills.

On this map you can see the underpass at Liberty Canyon that they believe P-45 may have used to get across the 101 and into the Santa Monica Mountains. You can see there are gaps in the residential developments there that would allow a mountain lion to pass through without having to deal directly with humans. This is where the land bridge will be built.

permalink | March 6, 2017 at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2017

Amargosa Opera House & Death Valley Junction

I was camping with Great Outdoors at Tecopa Hot Springs this past weekend. One day we took a little drive up to Death Valley Junction to see the Amargosa Opera House. My first visit there. Read all about the opera house and hotel here. Marta Becket died January 30, 2017, at age 92.

Marta Becket (3665)
Marta Becket.

Amargosa Hotel (3622)

Amargosa Hotel (3644)

Amargosa Hotel (3647)
Amargosa Hotel lobby.

Amargosa Opera House (3626)

Amargosa Opera House (3637)

Amargosa Opera House (3694)

Amargosa Opera House (3698)

Amargosa Opera House (3702)

Amargosa Opera House (3703)
The stove is the only source of heat and was burning with a low fire when we were there
.

Death Valley Junction Garage (3716)
Death Valley Junction Garage

Death Valley Junction Garage (3720)

Pink Tutu at Amargosa Hotel (3662)
Historic pink tutu not for sale.

More photos here.

permalink | February 28, 2017 at 11:13 PM | Comments (2)

February 6, 2017

Carjacked 1,200 Pounds Of Marijuana

In Pomona! They were caught when they were spotted from the police helicopter unloading the weed in the "700 block of Washington." So I went to Google maps to look at the aerial view to see if possibly there were other indications.

Well, looky here. Can you pick out the weed house in this neighborhood of neat homes? I imagine the police already had their eye on this place.
700 block of Washington in Pomona

permalink | February 6, 2017 at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Planning Commission - January 31, 2017

This was a special meeting of the Planning Commission to deal with the heavy marijuana workload. There are currently only four Planning Commissioners. Those two statements aren't directly connected. It's city staff that has a heavy marijuana workload and, coincidentally, there are only four commissioners for now.

Basement Cultivation at Green Leaf Wellness

This item was the agenda for the January 10 Planning Commission meeting, but was continued because the owner of the dispensary didn't show up. Now, on January 31, the owner was present.

Green Leaf Basement Floor Plan
North is up.

Commissioner De La Torre asked if the cultivation area in the basement extended under any neighboring business, such as the nail salon. City staff said it did not. Aw, too bad, because when I first saw these plans I could tell that it would extend under the nail salon. When the owner came to the podium he explained that the basement did, in fact, go under the nail spa. The point of that question was to determine whether an additional fire alarm should be installed in the nail salon, in case of a fire in the basement. The owner went on to list security measures he was putting in place, such as hardening the exit doors and installing card readers so he can track every employee who goes into a cultivation room.

Commissioner Cirner asked about ADA compliance. The plans show only two ways to access the basement and both of them are stairways. Rather than answer that question, the owner described more security measures he was putting in place. Mr. Cirner seemed to accept that as an answer. At the end of the meeting I asked Community Development Director Rangel about ADA requirements. His answer was, basically, that full ADA access in this space would be cost prohibitive. Yes, of course, but I didn't know you could compromise on ADA improvements solely because of their cost.

Someone (I could neither see nor hear who) moved to approve with the addition of an alarm in the nail salon connected to the fire detection system in the basement, Mr. Cirner seconded. Approved 4-0.


Tentative Parcel Map by DHS Properties, LLC

This is an empty 14.9 acre lot on Little Morongo Road north of Two Bunch Palms Trail. This tentative parcel map is for condominium purposes for marijuana cultivation. The agenda packet showed the applicant to be DHS Properties, LLC, but staff said the applicant was David Snyder.

Tentative Parcel Map
This map shows the old city limits, prior to the annexation that reached to I-10
.

The CUP for this parcel was approved in November 2015.

With no discussion or public comments, Commissioner Romero moved for approval, Mr. Cirner seconded, approved 4-0.


Four Parcels on Cabot Road

These four parcels are all adjacent and all will be used for cultivation. But there are two owners and some differences between each parcel, so this item includes FOUR CUPs, two development agreements and one mitigated negative declaration. (No partridges.) The two owners are Cabot Building Partners and DHS Therapeutics. It's on the east side of Cabot Road, a couple of empty lots south of Two Bunch Palms Trail. 6.29 empty acres.

Commissioner Cirner moved for approval with the addition of two lights on poles, seconded by Commissioner De La Torre, approved 4-0.

The entire meeting wrapped up in only 35 minutes.

permalink | February 6, 2017 at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2017

SpaceX Launch And Landing This Morning

If you don't want to watch the whole thing, start it at 22:25 which may seem a bit early, but I think you'll find it entertaining. There's some great photography on this 100% successful mission that launched from Vandenburg. Cameras on the first stage give you a few glimpses of much of the coast of California (mostly clear everywhere, it seems) as it ascends. You also get to watch the perfect descent from the POV of the first stage. The second stage gets screen time too.

Maybe I've just missed it before, but the speedometer constantly displayed in the upper right is new to me. I notice that the speedometer and the altimeter both have red lines. What happens if it red lines? It's not going to throw a rod. Does it mean it's overreached and achieved escape velocity? Milky Way here we come?

permalink | January 14, 2017 at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2017

Planning Commission January 10, 2017 - Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation

Commissioner Terifaj is no longer with the Planning Commission. Here's the form to fill out if you want to be part of shaping the future of DHS. Mayor Pro Tem Joe McKee is the one to make the appointment to fill this seat. Present tonight were Andrew Cirner, Scott De la Torre, Dirk Voss (Chair) and Cathy Romero.

The agenda this night consisted of four public hearings:

  1. A marijuana cultivator's tentative parcel map
  2. A CUP for a marijuana cultivation facility
  3. Amending a CUP to allow for marijuana cultivation in a dispensary
  4. Subdivision of land to be used for marijuana cultivation

Tentative Parcel Map for We Care DHS

The CUP for this grow facility got final approval back in August. The location is vacant land on Two Bunch Palms just west of the only cultivation site that is currently operational.

Approved 4-0.


Conditional Use Permit and Development Agreement for A Green Culture DHS, Inc.

This location is the northeast corner of 15th Avenue and Little Morongo Road. 15th Avenue is just a dirt road there.

The building will have 22,479 square feet of cultivation area and greenhouse roofs, so their electric bill will be a bit lower. The design of the building includes two 9 x 12 feet rollup doors that the cultivators don't need, but the city has started adding requirements to the cultivators' CUPs that will make the building more likely to be useful for other purposes when the day comes that they decide not to cultivate there anymore.

A Green Culture DHS, Inc
It looks like it's going to be right purty!

Approved 4-0.


CUP Amendment for Greenleaf Wellness

All marijuana dispensaries are permitted to grow up to 99 plants in Desert Hot Springs. When the CUP for Greenleaf Wellness was approved, however, the dispensary did not include any plans for the 1,315 s.f. basement. Now, they've got plans and they've come back for this amendment. The owner, Thom Miller was not present at the hearing.

Greenleaf Wellness Basement Plan
I believe north is to the left. The shops on the street level face the north. Across the top would be Palm Drive.

Ted Mayerhofen commented that he had worked on this building before it was a dispensary. He thought there were security issues. He also said that delivery would have to be from the alley, and an ordinary truck would block that alley. OTOH, any delivery to any business in that little shopping center on the southwest corner of Buena Vista and Palm Drive could block an alley. Plus, I thought the main reason for alleys was using them to load and unload, because then the trucks are not blocking the main streets or taking up parking lot space. So what if it blocks a short alley for a short time? Later, the discussion of the Commission indicated that they understood a dispensary would have no large deliveries or shipments, so no big trucks would be in that alley anyway.

Commissioner Cirner raised the question of ADA access to the basement. In the floor plan above you can see there is a stairway coming down from the first floor and one door that exits to the exterior. It looks to me like that's the door that opens onto the stairway that goes up to Palm Drive. That would mean this basement space is not 100% beneath the dispensary, as it seems to extend to the eastmost end of the building.


The stairway from the one exterior door is on the left side of the building.

This would certainly not seem to be ADA compliant. Do small business have to conform to ADA when doing major renovations? I think they do. Installing an elevator in this building would, it seems to me, be very cost prohibitive. This cultivation space may never come to be.

The vote was 2-2, making it a denial. Commissioners Cirner and De la Torre voted against. Mr. Cirner had brought up the ADA issue, but Mr. De la Torre never expressed his concerns about the project. Then a motion was made to continue the hearing to next month's hearing (February 14) so some of their questions could get answered and to give the owner the opportunity to show up and explain. That motion was approved 4-0.


Coachillin Holdings Tentative Parcel Map

Before discussion started on this one Charles Rangel introduced himself as the new Interim Community Development Director.

Coachillin Holdings propose to build the biggest cultivation site in the city on Indian Canyon between 18th and 19th. You may have already noticed that there has been some grading there. The land is vacant, but the Google satellite view below is recent enough to show some of the grading.

The site is 150 acres and the developer proposes to subdivide it into 40 parcels. Mr. Rangel said that staff recommended this item be continued...again. This is not the first time this has come before the Commission and been continued. Part of the reason this time is that the developer handed a new map to the city on the very day of this meeting. That map would need to be reviewed by both the planning department and fire department before the staff could make any recommendation on that.

Another, bigger reason for the continuance is that the property has on it what the Army Corps of Engineers calls a blue-line stream. Here's the definition of blue-line stream as given by the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District:

Blue Line Stream - Any stream shown as a solid or broken blue line on 7.5 Minute Series quadrangle maps prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey (USGS). A blue line stream may be any creek, stream or other flowing water feature, perennial or ephemeral, indicated on USGS quadrangle maps, with the exception of man-made watercourses. The United States Army Corps of Engineers uses USGS blue line stream markings as a preliminary indicator of “Waters of the United States”. Streams identified on USGS maps in such a manner are therefore generally subject to federal environmental regulations.

Blue-line stream
A USGS map of the site
. That's I-10 at the bottom. Dillon Road runs across the top of the map. It shows that "blue-line stream" coming down from the north, crossing Dillon and then Indian, then parallelling Indian as it crosses Coachillin's property. You can make it out in a regular Google satellite view, but it's also been used by off roaders, which somewhat obscures it. Before they can do anything on that site they need a sign off from the Army Corps of Engineers which will state, in effect, that they don't expect to be sending any ships up that stream, nor do they plan to dam it for hydropower or irrigation. BUT, the guy who does that at the Army Corps of Engineers retired in November and it seems he has not been replaced. Kenny Dickerson who represented Coachillin Holdings at this meeting, suggested that if both he and Interim Community Development Director Rangel went together to the Army Corps, they would get some action.

Coachillin Holdings disagrees with the requirement to put sidewalks on the streets around the project (except along Indian Canyon - there will be a sidewalk there). They also object to sidewalks inside their property. Their reasoning is that sidewalks make it easier for nefarious people to get closer to their valuable product. What a lot of nonsense. If your security plans are overwhelmed by simply providing evil doers a level path to walk on, then your security plans need a lot of beefing up. Every dispensary, every cultivator, everybody actually, puts in sidewalks. Never have I heard an argument that sidewalks attract crime. That sort of non-logic is usually used when a city is planning to extend a subway line or bike path, because everyone knows most stolen TVs are transported by either bicycle or mass transit. Crooks never have cars.

Coachillin is paying to build the roads around its facility. The sidewalks are a only a small part of that. Why would the city want to force people to walk in the street in an industrial zone?

Mr. Dickerson said that he would redo his proposal so that it only dealt with the parcels to the rear, which the blue-line stream doesn't cross. Mr. Rangel said that wouldn't help, because the Army Corps of Engineers would also have to sign off on a decision that the blue-line stream doesn't cross those parcels.

These are the remaining issues that still must be resolved before the Planning Commission can make a decision. Rather than bringing this proposal back month after month simply to approve a continuance, the Planning Commission voted to table it, meaning it hasn't been rejected and it isn't scheduled for a decision. Whenever Coachillin can get all their ducks in a row, they'll come back to the Commission.

Approved 4-0.


Special Meeting, Tuesday, January 31

Mr. Rangel said there is a bit of a backlog of proposed cultivation facilities that are ready for the Commission, so the Commission agreed to a special meeting on the 31st to review some of those.

permalink | January 11, 2017 at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

January 2, 2017

Tecopa Update

I'm just home from three nights of camping at Tecopa Hot Springs. The water there is as odorless as the hot water in Desert Hot Springs. Below is a comparison of the minerals between DHS and Tecopa.

Information on the Desert Hot Springs Aquifer came from Two Bunch Palms Resort. The numbers for Tecopa's hot mineral water came from Delight's. Units are PPM. ND = "Not Detected." I would appreciate it if anyone who can fill in a blank spot would leave a comment with the data.

DHS Aquifer
(hot)
Tecopa
Aluminum Oxide ND0.2
Bicarbonate 39668
Calcium 317.2
Chloride 120371
Fluoride 6.22.4
Hydrogen-ion Activity (ph) 8.47.5
Iron Oxide ND0.094
Magnesium ND9.7
Silica 0.53 
Sodium 300725
Sulphate 470497.5
Lithium 0.24 
Lead4
Boron9.2
Selenium8
Potassium22.3
Arsenic0.24
CarbonatesND45.2

Another difference that I only noticed this time (although it's never changed) is that in Tecopa, they are pumping a LOT of water into the hot tubs, 24 hours a day. I couldn't give you an objective estimate of gallons per minute, but I'll say that in DHS the flow of the water into and out of any particular hot tub is pretty subtle. The owner of the place could tell you if the water is flowing, otherwise you'd probably never notice. At the county baths in Tecopa the water is gushing into the first tub and roaring as it pours out of the second tub on its journey back into the ground. You have to really speak up to be heard over the water.

I counted the cinder blocks so I can tell you that the second tub at Tecopa is 16 feet long...and after that I forgot to do any more counting. I'd estimate the width at 10 feet. I didn't count any cinder blocks in the first tub, but it's roughly the same volume. One night when I was there, someone slapped what looked like a plastic bucket lid over the drain (which is just a 6-inch hole) in the second pool. This completely stopped the outflow and made it possible to talk at a normal volume. Over a period of about half an hour I watched the water level rise about six inches. With another couple of inches it would have started to run out into the dressing area. They pulled that plug off when they left.

Tecopa is showing astounding (for Tecopa) signs of prosperity for such a tiny, remote, and harsh town. There's a brewery. My big question was: What is the source of their water? There is no drinking water aquifer there. All the springs are hot mineral springs. Here's what I found on their website: "Now, we hearken back to the days when miners lived there and brewed their own beer with the same artesian water which flows daily from the natural springs." Maybe they run it through reverse osmosis to bring it closer to potability...or maybe not! For those Tecopans who drink more beer than water, this could be a risk.

The Bistro restaurant is still there, but I hear it's gone through a number of personnel changes. The food is still good (AMAZINGLY good for this outpost of civilization). I had the pork chops. All the guys said that the night before the pork chops were wonderful. Mine were dry and overcooked. They do pizza and there is no additional charge for additional toppings! Pig out! The best thing about the place, though, is the people. They are seriously understaffed (especially on New Year's Eve), but all the staff are really great. Service is slow, but very willing to customize to your pleasure. Prices are not bad at all ($21 for those pork chops). When I was there it was almost like being at a party. On their menu you will find a few dishes with scorpions in them. I asked, so I can tell you the scorpions are canned in alcohol in Thailand, so they come into the U.S. as food and it's about as safe as eating a dead Thai scorpion can be. When someone orders a scorpion dish, it's a big show...and not like those restaurants where the entire staff turns out to sing you a really bad birthday song. One of the staff comes out carrying a bullhorn and an instant camera (you know, nueva Polaroid style) along with the food. She'll ask you to hold the scorpion in front of your open mouth while she takes a picture. I was told they have no flavor, but are crunchy and fairly hard to chew, according to three local experts, ages 6, 7 and 8. They all ate scorpions that night. For some this was a repeat adventure. And then they came over and wanted to tell us their ages! There's a lot of screaming, cheering and applauding when a scorpion is successfully swallowed.

A scorpion eater is supposed to write his name on the instant photo and then it gets pinned up to their wall of fame.

There was a table of four young people, two men, two women, seated boy-girl-boy-girl, so if I were to stereotype I'd guess heterosexual dates. The men ordered a scorpion dish (ice cream and some cake in a big bowl), one took a selfie as he held it in front of his mouth—and then he put it back into the ice cream! He didn't swallow! The other guy didn't eat one either, so we got to find out what happens with failures like this. The nice lady with the bullhorn announces to the room "We've got a couple of chicken shits right here!" and the crowd goes wild.

BTW, this is a BYO alcohol place.

Further up the road, there is now a McNeal's BBQ at the entrance road to Delight's. Some of us went there this morning for breakfast. They have a very brief menu, but the waitress named off a list of other dishes they had that was longer than the menu. They should probably just print out new menus every day on plain 8½x11. The staff was great...as staff seems to be everywhere in Tecopa. Outside of Burning Man, I've never seen such a bunch of hardworking, nice, and apparently quite honest people.

But the food at McNeal's. Urgh. I had the brisket sandwich. In Kansas City a barbecue brisket sandwich is a couple of slices of white sandwich bread laid out side by side on a plate, topped with a big pile of sliced brisket with some dill chips and something like coleslaw on the side. At Gates BBQ in Kansas City that would cost you $5.75. It might be more than some people can eat. At McNeal's where all the meat is smoked for 15 hours, the brisket sandwich (their only other meat option is pulled pork - no chicken, no ribs) was a hamburger bun laid open face on top of which was shredded cabbage with no dressing at all (they called it "coleslaw") and a small amount of cubed brisket (I've never seen it cubed) that was dry and not very flavorful. Ten bucks. The pulled pork looked like a much better deal and the guys who ordered that said they thought it was very good. They got a much larger quantity of meat and sauce.

I didn't notice the most obvious lack at the table until someone asked the waitress for barbecue sauce!! She brought out one cold bottle of a thin red sauce. I put some on my brisket and it didn't seem to add flavor or moisture. At any other barbecue restaurant I would have tasted a couple of straight spoonfuls of the sauce, but I didn't even think of it, I was already so disappointed with what I had.

I'd say go there and try it. Mine was so bad it had to have been a fluke. They had been closed the day before, so my brisket may have been left from Saturday night. Order anything but the brisket (they have vegetarian choices) and just enjoy the Tecopa ambiance. They've got a big screen TV and play music (possibly satellite) and there's a large area of the floor that's clear, just about the right amount of space if some people wanted to dance.

I was there for three nights with Great Outdoors. I was the only one in a tent, my nice windtight tent, not the lightweight cool one I took to Burning Man, so I was always comfortable in there. But most of the time it was too cold (and sometimes windy) to sit outside. There was always, of course, the hot water tubs across the street. The cost of camping ($22/night for a spot with electricity) includes unlimited usage of the hot water tubs. One night we held a potluck dinner inside the RV that had the biggest popout. I brought my last package of Hydrox cookies. Most of the guys had never heard of them...and they were all of an age that the original Hydrox should have been available in their yoots. Maybe Sunshine Biscuit company was not entirely nationwide.

The county-owned campground and hot tubs use this website: tecopahotspringscampground.com which is not to be confused with the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort (tecopahotsprings.org) next door.

Neglected to mention for those new to the subject, the county hot tubs are sex-segregated with mandatory nudity. Very popular with immigrants from Korea, but it's not at all in the style of a Korean spa. Besides the group tubs, there is a third private hot tub room that is handicapped accessible and can be rented by anyone for their private enjoyment.


Here's your county campground on the west side of the roadway, and your county hot tubs on the east side and a bit to the northish. I never knew until I looked at this aerial view that the county tubs had one outdoor tub in back...or on the women's side.

permalink | January 2, 2017 at 09:54 PM | Comments (3)

November 21, 2016

Hotel Cecil

The L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission visited Hotel Cecil on Main Street. The lobby is quite nice. They also took us up to the 14th floor to see a couple of typical rooms. Most rooms do not have baths, so there are shared toilets and showers on each floor. All of the rooms are small; about 11' by 17'. We saw one room that had no bath and it was pretty small, but included a small flat screen TV and a clock radio that included a mount for an iPod (the old Apple connection, not Lightning). Then they showed us a room with a bath. It was still 11' x 17', so they just used almost all the open floor space to put a bathroom (shower, toilet, sink) in there. There was about 18 inches of clearance on either side of the bed, and if there was any furniture besides the bed, I can't recall it. The hotel is now doing business as "Stay On Main." The rooms are very plain,

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3089)

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3086)

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3061)

Hotel Cecil Lobby Entrance (3137)

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3124)

View From 14th Floor Hotel Cecil (3115)
Looking out the window of a 14th floor guest room, this is the view
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More photos of Hotel Cecil can be found here.

permalink | November 21, 2016 at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)