Archive for the “Local Flavor” Category

Learn what towns put out the welcome mat and for whom; from hippies to rednecks to soccer moms, see who fits in where across America.

In November, Jim and I made a pilgrimage back to the place in which we started our permanent road trip; Eureka California, home to the biggest trees in the world and a legendary reputation for the growing the best homegrown pot in the world.

Highway 101 South Garberville, CA

The first time I ever laid eyes on a redwood tree, back in the stone ages of my high school years, I was hooked on Humboldt County. I knew that someday I would return and spend time in that lush Northern California rainforest.

When Jim and I married and looked for cheap real estate and affordable business start-up space, it was a given that moving “behind the Redwood Curtain” was the answer.

Redwood State Parks California North Coast

But let’s get one thing straight: we didn’t reside in Humboldt County for 10 years because we were laid-back, pot-smoking hippies. No, we went up there for a $108,000 house on a  half-acre, spectacular coastal scenery and a budding (no pun intended) tech community built by urban refugees like us.

Unfortunately, seven years after we left, it seems that the tech economy that we worked so hard to create has taken a back-seat to the only real natural resource left in the county: dope.

The irony of all of the pro-cannabis legislation that’s happened in the last few years is that it’s brought more crime, transients and total economic reliance on an illegal commodity.

The hippie kids still come up in droves, either to panhandle or make a fast buck trimming pot plants during the harvest.

Hippies Hitchhiking Garberville, CA

But so do the drug cartels and accompanying murders, not to mention widespread damage to forests and rivers by growers.

We were talking about all of this to an authentic old hippie friend of ours who’s lived in Humboldt since the ’70s. I assumed he would be happy about the mainstream acceptance of pot use and growing in the area. But instead, he went on a rant about how much it’s all gone from peace, love and pot to crime, bums and guns.

“I don’t want it here! I wish they would all leave! We would be so much better off if they just went away!” he said.

It’s amazing what can happen in seven years. I’ve never left Humboldt feeling more certain that we’ll never return for good.

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Having been born in the wee hours of All Saint’s Day, I had increasingly hedonistic hallowed birthday bashes for the first 40 years of my life. Since hitting the road, Halloween in our RV has been rather calm. This year was different.

NuRVers Free RV Boondocking Behind Bally's Las VegasFor starters, we had a blast boondocking behind Bally’s for a week of fun on the Las Vegas strip with favorite NüRVer friends. The best part of that was the price—FREE! Why dry camp in a parking lot for a week?

Why, for the Zombie Walk of course…

 NuRVers Die for Zombie Walk Las Vegas 2013

After a few more days of finding bargains on the strip, then came Halloween on Fremont Street. Pictures, as they say, speak louder than words…

The highlight of Halloween this year, had to be the people-watching. And there’s no better place than Vegas, with its fair share of freaks—from the scantily clad to the downright creepy…

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Traveling from coast-to-coast puts you in the middle of some very interesting places . . .

We took the slow route from Goosenecks State Park to Las Vegas, and meandered along the Utah/Arizona border. First to Kanab, Utah, then down to the infamous Colorado City, Arizona.

This town of just 4,000 or so residents is ground zero for the nation’s largest enclave of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) followers in the country. FL-who you say?

Remember the arrest of Warren Jeffs, the FLDS leader and dirty old man arrested for rape, incest and polygamist marriages to more than 80 women? Well, he might be serving a life sentence in prison but his tight-knit, welfare-sucking-U.S.-government-hating cult is still thriving and under his spell in this creepy cult town.

After learning about FLDS practices in Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith I really wanted to see Colorado City up-close and walk around a bit, but Jim got a bad feeling and wouldn’t stop.

Now, I’m glad we didn’t. Apparently the town is covered with a network of hidden security cameras used by FLDS leaders to spy on everyone from visitors to residents.

Yes folks, right here in the Land of the Free, you can still form your own religious cult on American soil, use government funds to feed your hordes of inbred children and buy new pickup trucks, while simultaneously proclaiming that the Feds are the devil and your wives are your property.

WTF?

 

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There are some places we’ve been to that just get into our soul. Stillwell Store is definitely one of them.

We didn’t make it down to the Big Bend last winter but we’ve been dreaming about Hallie Stillwell’s territory ever since. Our plan was to return this coming February for at least a month – or so we thought.

Sadly, in August Stillwell was sold to a buyer who reportedly wants to keep things the same while turning it into a hunting mecca. Cynicism abounds but time will tell. It was no secret the ranch was on the market, and we understood why it had to happen, but the sale still felt like a huge loss to the region.

And then tonight, we just got the heartbreaking news that Kay Pizzini (pictured below, behind the counter), Hallie Stillwell’s granddaughter and the last of the amazing line of tougher than nails Stillwell women who kept the operation going, suddenly died without warning. We are so sad and all we can say is, look out heaven, you’ve got some kick ass women in control now.

My heart is heavy for Kay’s family and the loss of such an incredible piece of history. We had just gotten to know the Stillwell magic and now, it’s gone. Another piece of the great American west, disappeared for good.

Godspeed Kay. Godspeed Stillwell Ranch.

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Here’s a very quick video of another fun art project from our travels…

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Marfa Texas Tethered Aerostat Radar Surveilance BalloonIn the middle of nowhere on the way to Big Bend National Park, you may miss the Prada Marfa Store if you blink. The first time we saw it fly by, we had a classic double-take moment. I was actually more focused on the UFO in the distance, which turned out to be a Tethered Aerostat Radar surveillance balloon.

There is no door, but complete with pricey pumps and a placard describing the artist’s intentions, the Prada Marfa store has stood along this remote stretch of West Teaxs two-lane for eight years.

If you want to see it, you better hurry up!

Texas DOT Determines Prada Marfa Store Is Illegal

Texas lawmakers and the media are now claiming the installation is little more than an illegal roadside ad. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) has issued an order to remove the structure, calling it a billboard that does not fit permitted specifications.

Designed by Artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset to resemble a Prada storefront, with the intention of it slowly disintegrating in the harsh West Texas climate, the small structure sits on private land in Valentine, Texas. This small tourist attraction has definitely drawn the attention many, and certainly brought visitors to the remote area, perhaps even helping to spawn the growing Marfa, Texas Art Scene.

Prada Marfa Texas Art Installation Highway 90

While she did not commission the project herself, Miuccia Prada approved the installation prior to its construction in 2005. Celebrity visits have resulted in a photo shoot of Beyonce at Prada Marfa, a write-up about Marfa in GQ magazine, and worldwide attention upon this stretch of highway often referred to as a godforsaken part of Texas—otherwise known only for its mysterious lights phenomena.

And that might be exactly why the “store” may soon be shut down. Locals have complained about the roadside art project, and apparently don’t take kindly to big brands putting up “billboards” along their back roads. This isn’t the first time a major brand has been chased out of town. A Marfa, Texas Playboy art project was the first to come under fire by the TXDOT. It appears that Prada Marfa will follow suit soon.

What do you think? Ads or Art?

Wyatt Ray Dawg Wears Prada

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