Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hiking Ventura County - The Beginning

After writing yesterday's post about Geocaching, I decided that it was time to go out and seriously start hiking again. I googled Ventura Hikes and found a link for the local newspaper, the Ventura County Star. The Star has a list of 61 hikes in Ventura County (and some in nearby Santa Barbara County). I printed out the descriptions and sorted them by Length and Difficulty. The hikes vary from 2.5 miles up to 20 miles. My plan is to try to do one a week (or at least one every two weeks) starting with the shortest and easiest working my way up to the longest and most strenuous. I doubt I'll be able to do all of them but it won't be for a lack of trying - I hope. I would have started today but a rare event is happening this weekend - it is raining. Before this weekend, we had about 0.79 inches of rain since October. This weekend we've had 1.83 inches and it is still drizzling.

My plan is to start this Friday which is my off day. I should be able to do the first 2.6 mile hike in the morning. The hike will be the Sage Ranch Park hike located in the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. I'll take my camera and let you know how it goes.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Geocaching

I mentioned geocaching in my last two posts. I dabbled with the hobby a while back. Geocaching is a modern take on treasure hunting. People hide small containers (rubbermade containers, ammo cannisters, etc.) filled with cheap trinkets and a log book and record the GPS coordinates at www.geocaching.com. The searchers plug the coordinates into their GPS and search for the hidden booty. When they find it they record their find in the log book and on-line and if they want they can exchange one of their treasures for one in the cache. There are rules like the cache cannot be buried and it has to be publicly assessable - no private property unless you have permission from the owner. The swag really isn't the point of this hobby - finding the cache is. The search can be harder then it sounds. GPS devises are only accurate to about 10 meters (33 feet) If you have a lock on the right satellites you can get the accuracy down to 3 meters (10 feet). The GPS will get you in the area but it can still take time and bushwhacking to find the treasure.

I had heard about the hobby years ago on TechTV. I eventually bought a GPS on eBay and the wife and I did our first caches in nearby Ventura. The wife lasted about three caches. After that I did all the rest alone. I have to admit that I prefer hiking alone since I tend to have a faster pace then the wife. Hiders try to place caches in interesting places. For awhile I was using geocaching as a way to find interesting hiking trails up in the hills. I was introduced to quite a few interesting places and cool hikes. Unfortunately a large number of the caches are located in urban areas which do not interest me. I like the silence of the trail. I have kind of slowed down the past few years. For awhile there I was hitting a new trail every weekend. I think I started to run out of places to go - actually I ran out of trails within easy driving distance. The mountain trails were replaced with the easier beach walks. I need to go through some of the new caches in the area and hit some more trails. Maybe I'll start looking for places to hike this spring. I haven't really seriously geocached since 2004. From August 2001 to July 2004 I found 67 caches. This number is quite small compared with other enthusiasts. To give you an idea, there are 3,428 caches within 50 miles of my home. I have hit less then 1.8% in the area. I have done two in Alaska, three or four in Hawaii, and one in Iowa. All the rest were in California.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Installment #10: Alaska 2002 - Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Alaska 2002 Vacation. In our last chapter, our heroes had made their way from Seattle to Juneau. We pick up their journey at the Juneau Airport.


The next day we flew to Anchorage. Our hotel was on the edge of downtown so we were able to walk around and enjoy the shops and restaurants in the area. The place that made us both chuckle a little was Humpys. I failed to go in an by a shirt when I was there but the wonderful wife corrected this situation the following Christmas.

The next day we booked a glacier tour. The tour took us by bus to Whittier on the shores of Prince William Sound where we boarded a catamaran-style ship and headed out. A great tour - highly recommended. Our ship, being smaller then the cruise ships, was able to get us closer to the glaciers. In total, we saw 26 glaciers in the area. The views were amazing - the sound of the calving glaciers was like a gun shot. The ice floating in the water made for a strange and beautiful setting. They even served drinks with glacier ice that they had picked up during the trip. The weather, again, was perfect.


I did another geocache while we were in Anchorage. While I was hiding in the bushes examining the cache I was nearly eaten alive by the Alaskan state bird - the mosquito. I have never been in such a swarm or seen mosquitoes that size. The wife decided to stay at the hotel and do some laundry.



Alaska Railroad and headed north to Denali. The train ride was wonderful. We passed through forests, mountains, and over rivers - each more awe inspiring then the last. We even passed by a place called Waikiki, AK. Once again, as in Juneau and Anchorage, the weather was kind to us. We were able to get a view of Mt. McKinley from the train. Train porters said that the mountain creates it's own weather and a clear view of the mountain from the train is rare. 




We arrived at Denali and we took the shuttle bus to our hotel. I was surprised to find that all there was here were five or six cruise company run hotels and a few stores and restaurants. For some reason I expected a small town or something. Since we didn't have a car, it made for limited opportunities. We booked a bus tour into the park for our first day and a plane trip around Mt. McKinley for the next. The bus tour was supposed to be eight hours long. When we got on the bus we were almost dreading it but we were pleasantly surprised. Cars aren't permitted in the Park unless you are camping in the park. The absence of cars results in wildlife that are not afraid of the road so we were able to see all sorts of wildlife from the bus - wolves, bear, deer, rams, eagles. The bus stopped at various places to allow picture taking. Polychrome Pass was one of my favorites.




The next day we took a plane trip around Mt. McKinley. We had worn our out welcome with the weather gods since it was cloudy this day and visibility was reduced. We got in a small plane with a nurse from Marshalltown and some people from Omaha - The wife's 'small world' aura was at it again. We took off and we all got our oxygen masks hooked up and working since we were heading up where the air is mighty thin. Overall the flight was cool. The views, even with the clouds, was awesome. We even saw climbers leaving camp heading for the summit.

In total we spent three days at Denali. This was one day too many. The only other thing we did there was witness a sled dog demonstration that was cool but only took a few hours. This left us with a lot of dead time with nothing to do. I was hoping to be able to do some hikes or something but it didn't work out. An added disappointment was the limitations of the restaurants. Most of the menus had 5-8 items and, since we didn't like everything on the menu, we often had to order the same thing twice during our stay. The burger joint across from the hotels got our business a couple times as well.

On day 14 we got back on the train and headed north to Fairbanks. This is the northern most point of our vacation. Actually, I don't think I have ever been farther north. Anyway, the place that we stayed turned out to be a little disappointing. It was located in a residential area and it was more like a bed and breakfast then a hotel. There was nothing in the area worth walking to and the water smelled funny. Fairbanks is a frontier town ... a dirty frontier town. It felt like you were in the 1800s. Once again we didn't have a car so our choices were limited. We ended up taking a riverboat down the Chena River. The riverboat stopped at various locations a long the trip so we could see sled demonstrations and Native-American crafts and history. Unfortunately I left the camera back in the hotel room and I missed quite a few interesting pictures.

On day 16 we flew home from Fairbanks. We both enjoyed Alaska. During the trip we had been on trains, planes, ferries, catamarans, buses and automobiles. I really enjoyed everything until about day 13. Days 14 - 16 should have been done differently. I would have spent one less day at Denali and I would have rented a car in Fairbanks and done more exploring - panning for gold and visiting the Alaskan pipeline that runs nearby. Having said this, the wife suggested panning for gold and I poo-poo-ed it at the time. I was wrong.

There is one last note about Alaska. It didn't get dark until after Midnight. From Juneau until we got back home - 11 days - we never really experienced night. The actual night lasted 3 or four hours. Most of what we called night felt more like twilight. Very weird. We were wide awake at midnight and sleeping was sometimes difficult.

This was a good vacation that was almost great. Alaska is a beautiful, pristine wilderness worth the effort to experience at least once in your lifetime. There are more photos from the trip here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Installment #10: Alaska 2002 - Part 1

Our next vacation was a big one. I had been thinking about going to Alaska since my big 1995 vacation. When I suggested Alaska to the wife she was enthusiastic so I started to plan. There are a few ways to go to Alaska. My original - pre-the wife - plans was to drive the whole thing. I decided this was not practical since we had determined our car limit to be 10 days and Alaska was going to be more then 10 days. I explored tours and cruise options but we decided to do all the arranging ourselves. The wife had heard of the Alaskan Marine Highway System and it sounded like an offbeat, Homer's Travels sort of way to get there. The rest of the plan fell in to place after that.

We started with a flight to Seattle, Washington. We rented a car at the airport and headed to downtown Seattle visiting the
Space Needle and the Experience Music Project. We both enjoyed the Space Needle but we thought the Experience Music Project was just ho-hum. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is much more interesting.



We then made our way north to Bellingham. Here we spent the night. The next day we turned in the rental car at the airport and took a taxi to the Ferry terminal. We were too early to board so we checked our baggage and took a little walk around downtown Bellingham. It's a nice place. We bought some gourmet lollipops for the trip north. We went back to the terminal and boarded the M/V MATANUSKA. The ferry holds 500 passengers and about 88 vehicles. We settled into our cozy cabin. To save a little money I chose an inside cabin. The cabin has two bunk beds (I got the top bunk) and a small attached bathroom with a shower. If I did it again I might have splurged for an outside cabin with a window so we could watch the scenery from the comfort of our cabin but the inside cabin did have it's conveniences. When you turned off the light the cabin was pitch black allowing for a deep, rock me to sleep, restful slumber - which is what we pretty much did most of the way on the ferry. When we weren't sleeping, we were eating in the cafeteria, watching the scenery from the forward observation room where most of the socializing took place, or reading. Another option for staying on the ferry was to pitch a tent on the deck. This was the cheapest way to ride but it took a special kind of person to brave it. It was cold and drizzly from Bellingham to Juneau. Most people don't realize the this part of Alaska is considered a rain forest. Most of the deck campers were young, scraggly bohemian types. The wife and I are not young, scraggly bohemian types.


The M/V MATANUSKA's route is through the inside passage so you have land on both sides most of the way. There are only two spots when you have open ocean on one side. Except for these two spots, the ride was smooth with a slight, soothing roll. The ferry made a total of 5 stops on its 4 day cruise on the way to Skagway, AK. The stops were Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, and Juneau. We would be getting off at Juneau. Most of the stops along the way were short. We got off at Ketchikan, had a good breakfast, and were back aboard and on our way in less than two hours. Petersburg was at night and we did not have enough time to get off. We did enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks that were set off while we were in port.


Sitka was another story. The ferry was going to be there for several hours and there were buses to take the passengers into town so we could tour the area. Sitka was the capital of the area when the Russians still owned the Alaska territories and there is an interesting mix of Russian and native Tlingit cultures on the island. The tour took us past Russian Orthodox Churches and Totem Poles. The town was crowded since there were several cruise ships in port. Apparently the town's population quadruples when the cruise ships arrive. We bought some cool stuff before getting back on the ferry.

The last ferry stop for us was Juneau. We arrive late at night and took a cab to our hotel which was located near the airport. Juneau can only be reached by sea or air. There is no road out of town since the mountains that ring the city are impassable. It had been raining all the way to Juneau but when we arrived the clouds parted and we enjoyed two days of blue skies and gorgeous weather. We took a taxi into town. Juneau, the modern day capital of Alaska, has an old frontier town feel to it. The architecture reminded me of the western gold rush.

We took a tour which took us through the town, the salmon hatchery, and Mendenhall Glacier. We ate lunch at the Red Dog Saloon and took a tram up to the top of Mount Roberts. The views of Juneau, Douglas Island, and the Gastineau Channel are spectacular. The next day we took a taxi back to Mendenhall Glacier. We took a short hike taking us closer to the Glacier. I snapped a shot that has since adorned my computers both at home and at work. While we were there we did a geocache located nearby. I'll have to post about geocaching someday but for now just think of it as treasure hunting using a GPS. (This cache has since vanished - bear tracks were reported to be present in the area where the cache was.)

To be continued ...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Installment #9: San Simeon 2001

Following out East coast trip, our next trip out of town was a short three day visit to San Simeon and Hearst Castle. There isn't much to say about this trip. This was our first of many trips to Hearst castle. We did two of the tours, visited the elephant seals, and enjoyed some time in Cambria before we headed back home. The tours were interesting. The consumption is conspicuous and way over the top. I would like to think that if I had that kind of money that I wouldn't waste it on the stuff William Randolf Hearst purchased. My tastes are simple and my needs are relatively few. A huge cathedral like home with a private zoo and all sorts of antique religious icons is not me. It fascinating to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

This was a small trip but it has influenced us greatly since we have taken all our guests to Hearst Castle, the elephant seals, and Cambria. This short trip was the first of many to this area.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How Do They Know!?!

This sign is on a building across the street from a high school and next door to a study center. If the students are tired it probably has nothing to do with snoring. I wonder if they can do something for Homer - He snores like a freight train!


On a related note, we are getting really tired of being sick. We both want to get out of the house and do things. Lately I have not updated Homer's Travels at the same pace as in the past because there hasn't been much to write about and I am a little disappointed with that. Hopefully our virus will skedaddle and we will be off on more explorations soon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Book: Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark

I have been a very slow reader lately. I started Elizabeth Moon's "The Speed of Dark"... well it seems like months ago. Definitely before Christmas. I can't remember. The novel follows the life of Lou Arrendale, a 35 year old autistic man, who works for a large pharmaceutical company.  Lou, along with several other autistics, use their mathematical and pattern recognition skills to do their jobs.

The book is narrated by Lou and everything is seen through Lou's eyes. His world changes when an experimental treatment for autism is developed and he is given the chance to become 'normal.' Lou must decide if he should accept the treatment and risk becoming someone he is not or stay autistic and remain the same person. He must decide if normal is better than autistic. The book provides an interesting perspective on what 'normal' really is. The antagonists are all normal, non-autistics. The wise, thoughtful, and innocent ones are mostly all autistics.

I enjoyed the journey that Lou takes. It is thought provoking and you begin to understand the way autistic people must experience the world around them. The author is the mother of an autistic teenager and I am sure that is how she was able to get inside the head of Lou Arrendale.

The one thing that disappointed me is that there are only 20 pages after Lou makes his decision about the treatment and the end of the book. This twenty pages could easily have been 200. The end left me asking myself if Lou did the right thing. Risking giving away the ending, do you really have to change, conform to normality, discard all the good things that made your life bearable, to be truly happy? I don't know.

My favorite uncle and aunt recommended this book and I am glad I finally got around to reading it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I Can't Hit The High Notes

The wife has been under the weather for the last week and a half - runny nose, tired, and laryngitis. As of Tuesday, I have come down with the same thing. We both can hardly speak. The wife has continued to go to school and teach which can't be good for her voice. I will be going to the doctor's today for my checkup this morning and the wife has asked me to get some of "that S--t that kills." I assume she means medicine. I also assume she doesn't want "the S--ts that kill." HA!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Downtown Ventura

I have lived in Ventura County almost 20 years and I am still discovering new things everyday. I didn't want to sit around all day and the wife was busy with school work so I went solo and headed to downtown Ventura to explore and take some pictures.

After eating lunch I started exploring. Ventura has an attractive downtown area. The Main Street is lined with restaurants, high end shops, and pawn/thrift/antique/junk shops full of treasures. It is amazing all the junk ( err ... Treasures?) that people have bought at one time or other that eventually end up in the antique-junk stores. The staggering number of tacky chachkies is overwhelming - this doesn't stop me from walking through a store or two. I usually do my downtown walk before Christmas while I shop for the wife but this year I didn't make it. Today was a wonderful day to walk the town. It has been chilly here in southern California but the sun was warm and the breeze light enough that I eventually had to take my jacket off.

I headed up to the San Buenaventura City Hall. The building recently went through a thorough cleaning and renovation and was shining in the brilliant sunshine. The building is adorned with monk heads - each different from the other. The view from the City Hall steps down California Street to the Pacific is awesome.

I continued down to the San Buenaventura Mission. It is kind of ironic that after visiting 7 missions all over central and southern California, I had never visited the mission in my own backyard. I always included it when I counted missions visited but I was not totally honest - now I'm on the up and up. It only took me 19 1/2 years to do it. The mission is not impressive from the outside but the gardens are well kept and I was pleasantly surprised.

Across Main Street from the mission is a park with fountains and a mural dedicated to the Chinese laborers that used to live in the area. China Alley eventually emptied out as the Chinese looked for jobs in nearby Oxnard and fled the hostile treatment they were subject to.

After the park and Mission I had worked up a need for sweets so I stopped by Palermo Coffee and bought two double-chocolate truffles (Double Yum!).

I finished the afternoon with a drive up to Grant Park where the original Mission cross stood and admired the views of Ventura, the Channel Islands, and the Pacific Coast. There are often people her flying remote controlled gliders - today there was only one lone wind rider.

I have posted some more mission and downtown Ventura pictures on Flickr.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

San Miguel Mary

Here is a Mary statue that the wife bought at Mission San Miguel. This picture really doesn't do it justice - She is truly gorgeous. She is very reminiscent of the Mary's we saw in Peru and at Mission La Purisima.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lurching Into The 21st Century

Today we lurched into the new century and upgraded our cable to Digital and installed a DVR. I know I have complained that I watched too much TV but now I can do it more efficiently then ever. Whoopee!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Installment #8: Gettysburg 2001

In 2001 our summer vacation took us to the east coast of the United States. We flew into Baltimore, rented a car and drove down to Yorktown to meet up with the Godson, Matron-of-Honor, and Best Man (The Godson's parents). Our rental car had a Magellan GPS, my first experience with an GPS car navigation system. We punched in the address to our hotel in Yorktown , VA and we were on our way. Since we just have to name things, the GPS was soon nicknamed Maggie and she never led us astray. We played with the languages which resulted in Maggie saying something in Japanese that sounded a lot like "Keys F___ed up!" This resulted in all sorts of jocularity during our 10 day trip.

We arrived in Yorktown and met up with our family. The Godson was working as a docent at Yorktown and he took us on a private tour of the historical park. The next day we decided to head over to Pamplin Historical Park. The Godson thought he could get us there but, after driving around a little, we decided to ask Maggie for help. Turns out the Godson was close - we weren't too far from the park. The park was cool and we had a good time.

After our family visit, the wife and I went out on our own heading north and westward to Monticello. We had a great tour of Thomas Jefferson's little bungalow and gardens.

After Monticello we drove on to Harper's Ferry. We stayed at an ancient hotel up on a hill, the Hilltop House Hotel, overlooking the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The views were beautiful, the floors creaked, and the doors barely closed as all the doorways were askew. We encountered some wicked insect lifeforms in our room but the wife took care of them with her tricky hairspray - stiff, but stylish, bugs. We turned off the light and hoped and prayed that nothing would crawl into our noses, ears, and hair. The next day we walked the Appalachian Trail that goes through the area and visited the historic sites in the area before driving on.

We passed through Antietam on the way to Emmitsburg where we visited an ancestor's grave. We ended the day in Gettysburg. Here we took a ghost tour, visited a house built by another of my ancestors, and took a guided driving tour of Gettysburg. The tour was terrific. We paid a guide (a history teacher) to drive us around in our car as he told us of the history and the events of the civil war battles. A great tour. Our guide even took us by the Gettysburg Historical Society and helped us make an appointment so I could do some research.

The next day we did some research and made some copies of genealogical information, visited some more houses built by even more civil war era kin, and made our way to Washington D.C.

In D.C. we took the Metrorail (a station was only two blocks from our hotel) to visited all the monuments. We returned the next day and visited the Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian.

This ended our vacation. We drove back to Baltimore and flew home. It was a pretty good vacation full of history and stuff - Crazy Cool!

One more thing happened on this vacation. This was the last vacation we put Homer in the kennel. When we got back from our trip, Homer was so stressed out that he was sick and we ended up spending a couple hundred on vet bills. From that point on we have always hired a housesitter while we are away.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Movies - The Joy of Blockbuster

A couple of weeks ago we signed up for Blockbuster.com and we have been watching a couple movies per week. When the movies are cheap ($1.10/movie) your standards tend to drop. This being said, our choices have been bouncing all over the place. We've watched the following:

We have Citizen Kane on our table waiting to be viewed later this week. I'm usually not that interested in watching movies but I guess my tastes are changing because I am enjoying our movie nights (usually Friday and Saturday). Our movie queue has over 40 movies in it. You can't beat the price and its better then watching junk on TV.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Copy Cat!

I have been rethinking how I post pictures on Homer's Travels. I am not above copying other people I know and respect so I have decided to copy the Godson a little and use a Flickr account to store my pictures. This gives me more space and allows people to see the full size pictures if they want to. I have also added a link to my Flickr account in the Friends & Family section of Homer's Travels on the right. I will be adding more pictures as time goes by. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Whole Lot O' Nothin'

The past few days have been a whole lot o' nothin'. The wife started back to work on Wednesday. I don't go back until Monday. The past few days have been filled with a few chores, redoing the ol' budget, and taxes (yes, I've actually started my taxes). Nothing worth posting about. We currently don't have anything planned so bear with me - I will get started again soon.

Monday, January 01, 2007

PCH & Harmony

Our Saturday Adventure ... Continued.

After visiting the Mission, the Hacienda, and wetting our collective whistles, we started our drive down the Nacimiento-Fergusson road which heads West from the San Antonio Mission to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). We were feeling a little silly - I guess the fresh air, the brilliant blue sky, and the holy spirit was in us because we were all a little loopy. It started with the wife declaring to everyone in the car that "She was full of brown gravy." Now, this was obviously a reference to the gravy on the hot roast beef that she ate at Wilson's but everyone in the car took it completely the wrong way - which is always the fun way to take things. Our laughter was interrupted by a fork in the road - one fork took you across a river ford, the other a bridge with a sign saying Damaged bridge, no vehicle over 8 Tons allowed. I, of course, took the damaged bridge. After we crossed we realized that the bridge and the ford went to the same place so I just had to cross the ford. The water was only a couple inches deep so no big whoop but after crossing I did a 180 and we drove back through as we all said "WHEE!" Oh yes, we were special.


The Nacimiento-Fergusson road winds through the military reserve and on through a national forest. On the way we passed through areas used by the Army for training. On a flat meadow area we say several old tanks that were probably being used as targets. The "J" and I wanted to go out and climb on the tank but the wife, and the Danger Signs, said no. Sigh - Bummer! The rest of the drive to the PCH was remarkable. The drive is only 16 miles long but it takes about an hour to drive. The road twists and turns up and back down the Santa Lucia mountains. There were few places to pull off so we didn't take any pictures. I imagine the road would be even more beautiful in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming and the oak trees are all leafed out. Maybe a return trip is warranted. As we came down the Santa Lucia mountains we were rewarded with spectacular views of the pacific coast. The PCH from Monterey to San Simeon is one of the most beautiful drives in America and is highly recommended for everyone.


The road dumps you on the southern edge of Big Sur. We headed south ogling the gorgeous views. We stopped at one of the overlooks and took some pictures and scrambled on the rocky beach. Breathtaking. The pictures I took were OK but didn't capture the views. We stopped at Gorda Springs where we found a combination General Store, Resort, Filling Station, Restaurant, Post Office, and City Hall. We stocked up on water, ice cream, and salty things before hitting the road to places south. The road is very twisty-turny and the wife was threatening to hurl. The idea of brown gravy - of any type - all over the interior of my car slowed me down. Fortunately the road straightened out and all was well.



The last stop on our Saturday adventure was Harmony, CA - population 18. I have been wanting to stop here for quite a while. We pulled up at 4:50 pm and started to take pictures and explore. The pottery store was going to close at 5:00 so we hit there first. The wife bought a mug suitable for holding pencils on her desk at work. I looked at the t-shirts but they didn't have my size - drat.


The town was a dairy town. A feud between the dairy farmers in the area eventually resulted in a death. The farmers gathered together, ended their feud and decided to live in Harmony - the origin of the town's name. The dairy moved to San Luis Obispo in the 1950s and the town closed down except for the post office. In 1972 they restore the town but, once again it is in disrepair. The restaurant that was once here closed in 1997. The tiny wedding chapel closed two years ago. The only thing left is the post office and the pottery store. I have hope though since a winery has opened nearby. Maybe the town will be rebuilt once more. The "J" and I took some pictures before we lost the light.


I wandered around the small town. Looked through the old post office - It looked like it hadn't changed since it was opened in 1914. I saw the roaming gnome at the closed restaurant keeping an eye on the equally closed wedding chapel. As I was walking around I saw the doors to the out-of-order restrooms and noticed that one of the doors was marked "GEN LEMA." I pointed this out to the wife and she was confused too. We then realized the T and N were missing ... it was a very long day, you understand.
The drive home from Harmony was uneventful. I was exhausted by the time we got home. I should have let the wife drive the last two hours from San Luis Obispo. Anyway, the whole trip took 12 hours and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire day.

P.S. Happy New Year Everyone!