Six degrees of unification

The ‘small world’ phenomenon is familiar to many, as mapped in six easy steps.

♥  2537 miles → Airstreaming → Mushrooms → retired medical professionals → writers → Queen Elizabeth’s dogs ♥

The distance from DeTour Village, MI, to SanDiego, CA is five days by car and 0.005 sec. by Google.  Our summer neighbors, acclaimed travel writer, Graham Mackintosh, and his RN wife Bonni, an accomplished mycologist, split their time in these two idyllic locales.

SanDiego is also home to writer, photographer, naturalist, and RN (ret.) Bill Doyle, and his partner, Larry Ko, a culinary chef extraordinaire & pediatric therapist (ret.).  Their adventures are richly documented on the Airstream site, History Safari Express… appetizing read.

Through our joint friendships, they were all able to meet at this ‘can’t miss’ affair, in scenic Balboa Park.

Caution: Leave your Lotrimin and Sporanox at the door


Bonni is always welcome in our cabin as a dinner guest, where she provides an assorted tray of mushrooms to sample with wine and dinner.  Hand picked from the wild of the upper peninsula, they can range from earthy to sweet….and always, the non-poisonous varieties.  It’s safe to ask for seconds.  Or if you require resuscitation, she is equipped with the nursing skill to insure your survival.

Below, the happy trio smiling in the ethereal atmosphere which can only be provided by fungi and air-borne spores:

L-R, Bill D., Bonni M., Larry K.

If this isn’t adequate evidence that hallucinogens work, enter Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dog, the Welsh Corgi…..another common bond shared at the fair.

Graham and Bonni’s irrepressible, PILI (pronounced, pee-lee), in mid-flight on the beach at Lake Huron

Larry and Bill, with MAC and TASHA in the CA desert, joined by an iron-rich hound in the background

Note: if they were my dogs they would have been named Mac & Cheese


We wished we could have attended, nestled in southern AZ, however did so vicariously.  Content to watch the final episode, season three of Downton Abbey, along with a favorite, the brassy Queen Mother and her corgis.


Perhaps someone else will link Kevin Bacon and the six degrees of separation to this text, but Lynn and I are grateful our mutual friends, living only a few miles apart, finally met at this BYOM* affair.


* bring your own mushrooms



A scenic bypass on “The Longest Road”

Not an eternity, today marked two years since Life as Paperboys appeared, describing the introduction of editor/event organizer Rich Luhr to acclaimed American novelist, Philip Caputo.

Tonight, Phil retraces the trip from Patagonia to Tucson’s Alumafiesta with Insightout privileged to ride shotgun in his Tundra.  A wise choice, as our last venture, in one of my temperamental vintage Teutonic sedans resulted in running out of petrol; damn things require gas.  The bait, a delicious five course dinner prepared by Eleanor, fine wine, and a rare opportunity to catch up,  a prelude to Phil’s presentation of his soon-to-be-released travel memoir, “The Longest Road”.

Writers in a lighthearted moment, L-R, Phil C., Rich L.

A non-fiction account of a four month journey, spanning  > 16 thousand miles towing a 1962 Globetrotter, accompanied by wife, Leslie, and two English Setters, Sage and Sky, barely scratches the book’s underlying theme.

Apologies to Vonnegut, “The Globetrotterhouse Four” on the Pacific

Prior to the book release, readers might enjoy Leslie’s well crafted and humorous account of life on the road, keywestdeadhorse.  Aside from her editorial position for a major publication, runway good looks and stature, she has a unique and amusing view of the conditions, signs, and obstacles confronted in trailer life and all the crap most of us have endured.  A really good read.

Phil’s perspective of the human condition, the richness of his prose in 14 prior books and dozens of mainstream publications, promises an epic journey of the American psyche, shoulder-to-shoulder with William Least Heat Moon’s, Blue Highways, John Steinbeck’s, Travels with Charley, and Jack Kerouac’s, On the Road.   Be assured this is not an endorsement, as I have yet to receive a galley proof, but I’m anticipating a Charles Kuralt-like anthology, away from that ghastly motorhome, into an Airstream.

The exclusivity of tonight’s presentation, held in an inflatable, quonset hut/tennis pavilion, is clearly defined at the door.

The ambient temp in the building, a cool 58 F.

With a short introduction, and no warm up act, the headliner entertained the near capacity crowd for an hour.

A mirror image  of the afternoon trip, Phil and I return under still,  dark skies, across the foothills of the Santa Rita mountain range, toward our nests in Patagonia.  A pleasant hour, a couple of malted Mexican beverages, an opportunity to (alert: variation of a common vulgarity) “shoot the poop” sans outside distraction.  We had grown up, only a few months and thirty miles apart, 70 years ago, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, into blue collar families.  Personal setbacks and successes within our lifetime are tempered by trepidation for the future of our offspring at the dawn of the technology revolution.  Crack another Tecate.

The cliche, a must-read, is lame.  If you enjoy the road, airstreaming, and a thoughtful page turner on what makes us tick, do yourself a service and reserve a first edition copy of The Longest Road.  A decision you won’t regret.

Clutching an Illusion

A vintage drive is still the best conveyance for transporting a mood.  Mine, the tempo for today, will be an effort to avoid the soiling of virgins.  A 50 mile drive through scenic high desert country, Patagonia, AZ to Tubac, AZ, in a late model Chevy truck is little consolation to the original plan: driving a 1972 plain jane, Mercedes diesel sedan to visit with Airstream royalty.

Sidelined with a burnt clutch, my Snow White remains at rest, while I suffer the ignominy of public parking, internally portraying myself as the dwarf, Grumpy, at a local Santa Cruz County Car Show.

The sad princess, at home, awaiting a pressure plate, throw-out bearing and clutch slave cylinder

On the cusp of Alumafiesta 2013 in Tucson, I’m privileged to join the event planners; their last gasp of relaxation before the kick-off on Tuesday.  Forget the Super Bowl, where millions of idiots turn on the TV to watch ads, the staff of R&B Productions called an audible….”let’s go to a car show”.

On a country club driving range, a sunny 70F in early February, thousands come to view 500+ wheeled vehicles of every ilk; a ritual about wishes and memories and generations holding hands.  An antidote to future shock, a reminder that the world got along perfectly without microwaves and spray paint and gourmet coffee and cellphones and cruise control.   It is a shining sanctuary from the possible, where every street and neighborhood and architectural element is Hispanic.  The attendees, mostly upper-middle class elderly gringos, silver-haired refugees from cooler climes, are living reminders that not only is winning the only thing, it isn’t even necessary.

The ultimate example of the fin crazed madness of the late 50s, eighteen + feet of 1959 Cadillac El Dorado, precipitated this dialogue.

“When this car was built you were only this big”……..” Nahh, you’re kidding, really ?”

Constant comparison with better old days are illusory and unreliable.  An older German man has driven his ponton, ’roundbody’, 1960 Benz 190 sedan, an anemic performer with the erotic buttocks of a biergarten fraulein.

84 HP, zero-60 mph by sunset


Overheard at every car show, the admonition, ‘ oh look, we ( may sub family, uncle, brother-in-law, grandfather) used to have one of those.’  And yes, I, too, owned a 1958 220S roundbody sedan from 1993-2007.  We called her Daisy.  After Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), in the memorable movie of an old Buick chauffeured by Morgan Freeman.  Drove it to work every day during the summers, transported my daughter to her wedding, reveled in the Teutonic precision, and lusted over the dated pre-WWII styling.  In another irony, I opted to sell Daisy because of a tempermental vacuum operated clutch that I had grown to dislike.

Daisy, at a local mausoleum, the day before she left for the Orient.

The purchaser, an Asian mall developer, shipped our jewel to Hong Kong, where she now resides, suspended on a rotating platform in the atrium of a large shopping center.  A shameful fate, I still harbor guilt that she is no longer allowed to drive.  Like having a tubal ligation before a fertility rite.

On my way home now, imagining the 2001 Silverado I’m driving is a vintage ride, I enter a U.S. border patrol checkpoint, am racially profiled, and summarily allowed to pass through quickly.  Being an anglo geezer has its perks.


Prompting a Yogi Berra-like thought;

nostalgia isn’t what it used to be