Tuesday, September 2, 2014



SGE regulars Lori and Brian Law are very dangerous individuals. Their seductive travel photos have been a bad influence on me for years. And they've cranked the volume even higher in recent months. Their devious plan finally came to fruition last week. (Photos courtesy of Lori Bentley Law)

There were activities for every taste bud on the Labor Day weekend schedule of events. Hopefully, you celebrated it by avoiding any actual labor. Longtime girlfriend Saint Shellski and I got a jump on the traffic by hitting the road previous to the vacationer onslaught.

We're road dogs. Given free reign, Shellski and I would be out there chasing lines at least nine months of the year. But we're both so grateful to do what we love for a living (she's an artist) that we feel like blasphemous ingrates whenever we're away from our work. Thanks to some cosmic intervention, we were able to justify jamming an entire summer vacation into a single 24 hour calendar square last week.

Our motivation was the recent passing of our beloved daughter, Sheila the Wonder Dog. Sheila's favorite place on Earth was the remote little park just off the Sims Road exit of I-5, south of Dunsmuir, California (highly recommended for human usage, as well). We spread Sheila's ashes at Sims Road in an intimate ceremony that included some spoken prayer and poetry, moments of silence, and even the ashes of her predecessor in life and death, Lena the Leaner. Realizing we had 20 more hours at our disposal, we set out in search of the spirit of America, in honor of these fallen four-legged heroes. We know such a salute is more appropriate to Memorial Day, but we left the calendar at home with the road map. Call us anarchists if you must. We were just following our intuition.

Sheila the Wonder Dog at Sims Road in July of 2014. From the moment she first set paw on this ground years ago, she has owned the place. Now it's for keeps.

Saint Shellski somehow sniffed out the Cave Springs Motel on the edge of Dunsmuir. Original and unrestored, these $50 cabins are stationary vessels of time travel. Our Honda sedan didn't fit in the carport designed for Model Ts. Incredulously unsafe and unappealing to modern sensibilities, we considered the place a gift from the ghosts of history. Five stars!

There was no air conditioning (ambient temp loitered around 100 degrees), but the cabin had a fan, and this refrigerator on the back porch proved to be a life saver. Fridge and fan were both energized via multiple tag-team yard sale extension cords.

The view from the back porch. That's the drought-choked Sacramento River roaring at the bottom of the steep cliff outside our door. We made the perilous hike down and discovered some small caves and other natural intrigues.

Our headquarters came equipped with a functioning lamp and curtains. Nicer than some late-model cars I've slept in. We did suffer a late night invasion from an army of ants, intent on making off with our homemade organic brownies. I made this discovery the hard way, with a mouth full of ants. War is hell. In the end, the ants got the brownies, but we got the ants, thanks to Shellski's homemade organic mosquito repellent. That stuff is so potent, not a single organic mosquito came within earshot. And the ants? We hope they enjoyed the brownies. May they rest in peace.

We performed some rudimentary interior decorating, lest we forget why we were there.

We went foraging for food the next morning. A torturous two minute walk from our cabin, we finally discovered the Yaks Cafe. Another life saver and another five stars! Proprietor "Mike" is a black-belt cook, who serenaded us with raunchy gutbucket blues on the stereo, and served up a hearty breakfast feast, while riffing non-stop on current local sociology and history. Thanks, Mike! 

While walking off our meal, we made our way down yet another cliff side and found yet another cave, complete with waterfall. All this and more, within walking distance of the cabin.

Like any exploration, we discovered the disturbing and the wondrous...

Whatever omnipotent predator busted out of this man-sized mineral egg was doubtlessly stalking us. The atmosphere buzzed heavy with ozone. I jumped on Shellski's shoulders (she's freakishly strong for her size) and we hightailed it outa there! The Honda was aimed due north, so that's where we went.

After catching our breath and hydrating at Shasta City, we took Yak Mike's advice and visited nearby Castle Lake. Even in drought conditions, it was beautiful and refreshing, despite heavy smoke from the Happy Camp forest fires. We saw a black bear cruising through the woods on our way out. He carried no fire extinguisher and wore no ranger hat. We gave him wide berth and kept moving.

Yak Mike also verified what we had heard about the Mt. Shasta fish hatchery and museum. What Mike didn't know was that an art competition/auction was underway in the gallery, with proceeds benefiting the museum and local Scott Valley artists. Bonus! We even got to judge the entries. And I thought AMBR judging was tough. The smoke continued to roll in over the hills and slowed freeway traffic as we approached home base. We arrived burn-free and grateful for the adventure. 

The SGE Headquarters hallways were eerily lifeless upon my triumphant return. Just like always...  (Scotty and Shellski shots)

 After a good night's rest in my own sleeping bag, I got up, switched on the TV, and watched some guy shaving. Mesmerizing. (Photo courtesy of Marc Gewertz)



I shot this digger squirrel (with a small caliber camera) from the front porch of our cabin. The distraction in the foreground is a horseshoe pit - as mandatory as squirrels at any Northwest park-like setting.

Grassroots street/strip legend Race Trevino celebrated Labor Day by announcing his retirement from the chassis fabrication biz. Equally as bittersweet as spreading ashes, Trevino's announcement is good news for the inhabitants of these Craftsman rollaways, as they'll finally get a well deserved rest. I've just been there, little buddies, and you're going to like it! Savor it while it lasts...(Photo courtesy of Race Trevino)


This is the only SGE post containing but a single automotive image. So we'll mark this unprecedented occasion with yet more non-automotive imagery. Non-automotive?! Is that even possible? I'm a deer in the non-automotive headlights. Hmmm... God? Can you give me some kind of sign?

Or is it? Here's a sign that your summer never has to end:

That's right - it's summer in a jewel case! Complete with cool car imagery and a backbeat that just won't quit! Get yours while supplies last, at: https://www.createspace.com/Customer/EStore.do?id=2233253