Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
– Mark Twain
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
– Mark Twain
JAMES DEAN AND A COUNTRY DRIVE
On a drive through California’s San Joaquin Valley, on our way to Monterey, my Prince Charming husband and I drove through miles of farmland growing every crop imaginable. Traveling west on Route 46, ahead of us we could see the soft rolling hills that border the western edge of the valley. There were horses, grazing cattle and nut trees as far as the eye could see. We were passing out of the bread basket of California and into the beautiful vineyard country of the central coast. In typical fashion for farming country, we passed several signs inviting us to a country store and gas station offering edible treasures from the surrounding area. My husband read one of them, “Pistachio Almond Bark.” “Let’s go in”, I said, thinking that sounded good. Besides, I love these kinds of country stores with homemade yummies.
Turning into the parking lot, we passed a towering cut out figure of James Dean in rolled up blue jeans and t-shirt, his hand pointing us in the direction we should go. Inside we were greeted by a vast array of plastic bags of flavored nuts; honey almonds, maple cashews, jalapeño pistachios and a hundred others lining the aisles. There were jars of jams, jellies, syrups and other delectables, everything made from the bounty of the land around us.
The walls were covered with pictures, posters and artists renditions of the famed actor James Dean. I initially thought they were there because of the charming 1950’s style diner in the back corner of the store. The real reason though was one my Prince Charming husband was about to discover. As I was busy photographing an interesting truck display in the center of the store that I was so enamored with, my husband interrupted me and called me over to him. Holding up one of the jars of preserves, he showed me the label on the front of all the jars on the numerous shelves. It said ‘Blackwells Corner. James Dean’s Last Stop.’
Having chosen our yummy selections; a jalapeño honey mustard, two jalapeño preserves, some almonds and pistachios, I asked the young man at the register what it meant by ‘James Dean’s Last Stop’. He informed us that the legendary actor’s tragic auto accident happened about 25 miles up the road, in Cholame, and while passing through he stopped in this very truckstop. Perhaps he wanted a cup of coffee, a sandwich or some of the wonderful nuts, just like we were buying now. It was approaching sunset as we left with our goodies and we continued up the hills toward the spot where the acclaimed actor lost his young life. As we passed the junction of highway 46 and 41 we saw it was marked by a small official looking sign that reads ‘James Dean Memorial Junction’.
On September 30, 1955, James Dean was on his way to an auto rally in Salinas, California with his friend and mechanic, Rolf Wuetherich. Unfortunately they would never make their destination. At the junction of Highway 466 (now State Route 46) and Highway 41, shortly before sunset, a vehicle turning left didn’t see the silver Porsche coming toward him until it was too late. The Porsche rammed into the Ford, the small sports car torn through like tin foil. Sustaining fatal injuries including near decapitation, James Dean, the actor who was astonishingly talented, and achingly beautiful, was gone forever.
About 900 yards from the accident site on Route 46 there’s a tree called ‘The Tree Of Heaven’ where a memorial for the actor still stands today 59 years later. There’s a quote from a dear friend and an epitaph. On the epitaph it says, ‘Death in youth is life that glows eternal.’ Appropriate, since his legacy still lives on. It’s a lovely, simple tribute to a man who made a huge impact in only 24 short years on this earth.
James Dean only completed three films in his life as the lead, two of which were released after his death. All three are classics and must-see viewing for movie lovers. He is, to this day, the only actor to earn two Academy Award Oscar nominations after his death, none in his lifetime.
We continued on the road James Dean would have driven, had he lived, thankful to enjoy the pastoral drive through Paso Robles, admiring all the wineries that beautify the landscape. We talked about the actor, films, young lives cut short and, of course, we drove very carefully.
My husband and I, being the classic movie lovers we are, had always heard about how James Dean died but never really knew any details or even where it happened. We were simply driving to our destination for an art show I was participating in. We had no idea that we were about to stumble upon a bit of film history, however sad it was. That is what I love most about traveling. Whether it is around the world or just around the next bend, you never know what amazing things you might discover.
Recently my life changed, drastically.
One day I had a long commute to an average part-time job with no benefits. It was a job I enjoyed, but with no challenge and no future. The next day I didn’t. What happened? I had been at this job for almost two years (one of the longest jobs I’ve ever had) and then one day my hours get cut and my shifts get changed, with no warning. I was being pushed out, obviously.
So the crying, talking, discussing, planning and complaining began. Honestly, the complaining had started much earlier. I complained about the commute, a lot. I complained to my friends, my family, anyone who would listen. My poor husband got the brunt end of it. I even complained on this blog, which was one of the biggest reasons I stopped writing it. Who wants to read that?!! Ultimately, my husband and I juggled the scenarios and possibilities and finally made a decision.
Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am a movie lover, as is my husband. We are unable to carry on any conversation without quoting at least three movie lines. There is one particular movie with a message that has moved us both since the first time we saw it. The movie is ‘You Can’t Take It With You.’ How does this apply to a life changing decision, just hang on and let me explain.
In this movie the hero, played by Jimmy Stewart, wants to win over the girl, played by the beautiful Jean Arthur. Both main characters come from two different worlds, very Romeo and Juliet in fact. He come from a family of immense wealth and power and his parents think the girl is just looking for a rich husband. The voice of reason in all of this is her Grandfather, played by Lionel Barrymore in a most endearing performance. When the worlds of the two young lovers collide we’re reminded of what’s important in life as well as the fact that money doesn’t buy happiness. In an early scene, the one that has stuck with me over the years, the Grandfather sees a hard-working man toiling at what would be equivalent to today’s cubicle job. He asks the man if he enjoys what he’s doing. The man of course says “no”. He would be much happier doing his hobby. He is a toy inventor of sorts. After seeing an example, the grandfather invites the man to come and live at his house and be ‘a Lily’. To be taken care of by the same force that takes care of the birds and animals and the lilies of the field. Doing what you love, knowing that GOD will take care of things.
Obviously, you can’t live your life based on a movie. Of course, living my life the way society tells me to all these years isn’t working either. However, I can stop doing things that make me unhappy and attempt to do what I love in life, and let go.
Monumental decision time! I quit my job, and so did my husband. No more commute. No more bosses. No one yelling at me for doing things wrong and dictating my life for me.
What am I going to do? What I’ve wanted to do my entire life. Art! I’ve already signed up for numerous art shows and I will sell my photography. Art shows, farmers markets or a table on the street corner, it makes no difference to me. Eventually we’d like to get an RV and travel from show to show. Photographing places along the way and sharing the images with others, with you. Also on our travels, I will write this blog, showcasing shows and images, as well as talking about our travels. We’ll also talk about the ups, downs, highs, lows and wonderful experiences of two people who have decided that life is too short to do something you hate and be miserable. Two people willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to live a free life filled with travels, seeing the world and experiencing all it has to offer.
How many times have we all said that to ourselves, ‘Life’s too short!’ We just decided to stop saying it and do something about it. Not to mention, I will finally turn this blog into the ‘travel blog’ I always wanted it to be. Many people will think I’m crazy, and they may be right. I think we’re just finally ‘getting it’. No, I won’t have steady income and a paycheck. No benefits, (neither of our jobs offered them anyway). No security other than knowing that I believe in myself and what I want to do in life. I want to promote art that entices people to see the beautiful and fantastic world around us. I want to write about taking risks and doing what it takes to be happy.
So, if you’re in the area, stop by my art booth, pick up a piece of art and help me out. Share my website or blog page with others and hopefully GOD will do the rest.
The other day I posted some recipes. Last night I made the Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad and I gotta tell you, it’s fantastic! If you like salads and your looking to make something different…try it!
I know I said yesterday that we were going on a new hike that was a 6 mile round trip. But…
I think it ended up being closer to 8 miles. To be honest, I have no idea.
We got in there and it was truly beautiful, but the storm and heavy rains that we had a few days earlier left their mark.
Trees were down and parts of the trail in numerous places were washed away, to a point where we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to go.
We ended up going down part of a trail and ending up at a dead end or impassable spot. Then we would head back and ultimately ended up hiking for well over 4 hours.
By the time we found our car again, I was completely exhausted.
Here are the pictures I took. I hope, as usual that you enjoy them.
It was a wonderful hike and really gorgeous out there. Quiet, peaceful and although exhausting…fabulous!
I drove up Hillhurst and N. Vermont Avenues heading toward Griffith Park. Having a few hours to kill before meeting friends for dinner, my internet research told me that this park had an excellent view of the iconic and historic Hollywood sign. I plugged the address into my GPS and before I knew it, I was driving past magnificent and majestic homes that cost more than I will ever make in my lifetime. The streets were lined with stately trees, their trunks the diameter of a small car and roots popping up the sidewalks. There were perfectly manicured lawns with large, beautifully made, decorative fences that all screamed, “go away!”
Reaching the entrance of the park, I thought I’d drive through it to see as much as I could. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to walk the trails, even though I would have loved to. After a few minutes I was surprised as I came across a sign that said ‘Griffith Observatory’ with an arrow. I turned my car in that direction. I don’t know why I didn’t put it together. Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory. Of course, I had heard about the Observatory, but I’d never been here. Excited now to see two of Los Angeles’ must-see attractions, I drove up to the top. After parking my car I got out and headed over to the side to inspect the view. There it was, the Hollywood sign, lit up in the sunshine, displaying it’s large white letters proudly for all to see. Being the traditional tourist that I am, I proceeded to get my camera out and capture the view numerous times and from several angles. Pleased with my image souvenir, I headed toward the observatory.
Reading the sign, I realized that it was closed for the day. Disappointed, I decided to make the best of it and enjoy the view and the serene, relaxing feeling in the air. Others felt it too. There were hikers just finishing the trails, sprawled out, catching their breath on the green lawn. Couples snuggling up in corners to kiss, with the Los Angeles skyline providing a stunning backdrop to their camera phone selfies. Parents lifted their children up to see the pretty buildings in the distance.
I came across a sculpture statue of James dean, the actor. Part of the movie ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, which I saw, was filmed here at the Griffith Observatory, but I didn’t remember that until the statue reminded me. Did James Dean walk where I did? Did he too enjoy the view of the Hollywood sign from up here? I paused on the walkway to take in the view. Did the famous actor stop right here where I’m standing and have a cigarette? Although his view would have been much less populated and surely with less smog, did he appreciate the fact that Los Angeles looked so nice, pretty and almost kind from here? No wonder it’s a popular spot to come to. Still in the city but away from it all with nature and history all around.
The breeze kissed my face and made my hair dance. I looked out at the layer of smog below. It looked like a ribbon about to tie up the city into a dirty colored bow. Occasionally you could hear the screech of a car slamming on its brakes or an ambulance siren in the far distance. The only tell tale signs of the metropolis below.
As the sun began to sink in the sky, photographers began to appear and lined up along the edge of the terrace. Where I would normally have felt at home I suddenly felt out of place. I had not brought my ‘real’ camera. Armed with only my camera phone and a couple of small after market lenses I captured what I could of the view.
I looked out at the view and day dreamed a little. James Dean filming up here. The Hollywood sign and film history. What would it have been like to be Natalie Wood, filming with James Dean? Getting to kiss him. What did it look like up here at night? I was dreaming, because that’s what you do in L.A. You dream.
Why are they called comfort foods when they don’t make you feel comfortable?
All they do is make you overweight and feel sick.
I was thinking about this recently, but let’s face it, who wants to eat a salad every day?
Some people I guess, but not me.
So I decided to start looking up salads. Different salads. Fun salads.
I found a few that sound amazing and I’m going to try them.
Here’s a couple of them:
1 In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary.
2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.
3 Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.
Yesterday’s hike was so amazing, we made it all the way up to what they call ‘The Saddle’.
It’s where the trail head of each trail meets at the top and you can choose numerous other trails to go onto from there.
It took us over 3 hours to reach the top! Whew! My legs were shaking so badly, I was fatigued and could barely lift my feet up to heave them over obstacles like rocks or logs on the trail. But to be honest, it was completely worth it. The views, the peaceful silence, but also the satisfaction of doing it made it all worth it.
I had tons of fun playing with my new lenses. Unfortunately, I was playing so much, I ran out of battery, so there aren’t nearly as many images here as I had planned on or wanted to take. I’ll have to take them for you next time.
The most fun I had was using the Macro lens and taking pictures of the bark. I think those images on this hike are my favorites.
Once we reached our car, I realized that I finally understood marathon runners. I’ve heard runners say that finishing is important and that the next time they did the race they would work to improve their time. I felt the same way. I was overwhelmed and truly proud of myself that I made it all the way to ‘The Saddle’. I also told myself that next time, I would work harder to get up to the top faster and in less time.
Can’t wait for next time!
I love the way the bark looks like it curls around the tree.
I LOVED the bark! Gorgeous!
This rock formation was so colorful and they way it was stacked up it looked like a bowl of ice cream to me.
Doesn’t this tree root kind of resemble a dragon?
Can you see it?
My Prince Charming husband at ‘The Saddle’.
Since my head injury in high school, migraine headaches have plagued me. After the accident I spent years in unbearable pain. Often the headaches were so bad I would pass out. I lost job after job, had test after test done and still the headaches were there. Unfortunately, not much has changed, until this hike.
I still have terrible headaches, but truth be told they are less in severity now, and on this hike I realized that I have truly come a long, long way.
Years ago, I would spend days, sometimes weeks in bed, in agony. I just didn’t know how to fight back. I was in so much pain, I was so young and I didn’t know how to deal with it. That is why today, I’m overweight and out of shape. It’s hard to exercise when your in bed or on the couch.
Yesterday, however, was different. Migraine headache in tow, I went for a hike with my Prince Charming husband. It was the most painful exercise I’ve ever endured. Fortunately the miracle of the day is that I did endure it. I didn’t go to bed. Didn’t give in. (Even though I really wanted to) Oh don’t misunderstand, on this hike I rested and stopped, A LOT! We took more breaks than steps, I think, but I did it. I went, I walked, I hiked and we made it further this time then the last time. When the headache got really bad I stopped to sit on a rock or fallen tree to keep myself from falling. My husband would aid me along the way when my vision got too bad or I was wobbling too much. When the shooting pain through my head subsided a bit, I pressed on.
I pressed on. Wow! A truly amazing day!
Here are some images I took. I hope you enjoy them.
The other day we went to the Huntington Library to stroll through their botanical gardens.
Neither of us had ever been there before, but now that we’ve gone, it will not be our only visit.
It is truly an extraordinary place and I’m hoping that the pictures below make you want to go, because I promise you’ll love it.
Gorgeous, peaceful and serene. Nature at it’s finest in the middle of Los Angeles. Wow!
I’m thinking that perhaps going back in the spring would be a good idea. When we went a great many things weren’t blooming and I’m sure this place is breathtaking when everything is at it’s peak!
Also, far too many people just walk the gardens, which are awesome and worth it…but…. Be sure when you go to see the inside of the museum. They have an amazing library and this is also the home of the famous painting, ‘The Blue Boy’.
Don’t miss it!