The Penguin – Happy Halloween

So, the crickets on the old “Adventures of Nikki Weed” site have been pretty loud lately. There isn’t a good reason for the absence of content, seeing as how my “writing gig” ended about three weeks ago. At the same time, I’m getting hassled about payment and losing my patience with the human race. Come Monday, there is a pretty good chance I’ll be sitting in training at a Big Box store near me, wearing an apron, learning about how to manage shrink.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this amusing anecdote with you. Why not?

I have a dear friend of mine, although at times he’s a bit neurotic, a heavy drinker, and part time quilting enthusiast, I still call him one of my very best friends. He’s been through a bunch in his life. Not to air his dirty laundry but his Mom went out for a pack of smokes when he was eight and left him with his Dad. His Dad was a pretty cool dude, from the times I met him at least. Blue collar to the bone. His girlfriend/wife/ex-wife/mistress/stripper on the otherhand, wasn’t exactly the most savory character. Anyways, she was left with the burden of raising up my buddy, Chuck is his name, by the way.

So Chuck, as rough as his childhood was, was always a positive guy. I can remember boldly a time when he was about 22 (I was a few years older), he asked me my opinion on companionship. Me thinking it was some sort of come-on or something I brushed him off and said, “Chuck, you’re so sweet, I don’t see why you need another human to make you complete.”

To my surprise, the response was stark and cold, “no,” he muttered. “I was thinking more along the lines of a pet.”

I shrugged it off, told him to go to the nearest animal shelter and select the cutest dog/cat/marmot that he could find. Candidly I was wanting him to find a “parner” magnet…I say it that way because I think it’s frowned upon to say “chick” magnet and assume that he was into chicks.

He nodded, agreed and we parted ways.

Weeks later, I bump into him a the Maverick gas station, where I was buying over priced well water in a fancy bottle and granola. He runs up to me, hugs my neck, and proceeds to tell me the tale of his “pet”.

“Nikki, I’ll tell you exactly what happened to me after I took your advice. So, I went down to the local no-kill shelter, and no dice. I mean, the dogs were cute, the kitties were fuzzy, and the odd potbellied pig was sort of neat, but they didn’t fit the bill. I really wanted something special, ya know. I’ve always blended into the crowd. Nobody picked me for sports teams because I blended into the background, nobody asked me to dances because I wasn’t bold enough, the whole schlep. I wanted to stick out.”

I held my breath and nodded.

“Upon cruising Craigslist I found an ad for something really intersting. A washed up petting zoo owner was going out of business and had some penguins that needed a new home. I thought about it, and remembered that my Mom, before she left me, collected penguins. I felt compelled to take ownership of those ten penguins. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to make it work, but I was determined.”

I held more breath.

“I picked them up, Bobby, Jake, Martin, Sally, Sandra, Sophia, Dorothy, Max, Max 2, and Aaahnold. They were really tame. I threw them in the back of my truck and took off. That nice guy only charged me $20 for the whole lot of them. You should have seen them, marching into the bed of the truck. I didn’t even need to bribe them or put them in cages.”

“What do…” I began to ask, but I was cut off.

“Anyways, I didn’t get more than two miles down the Interstate with my bed of penguins and I saw Police lights in my rear view. I tossed my beer can in the back seat and chomped a hand full of Doritos to squelch the beer smell.”

“I did not know…” I eeked out.

“The cop popped out of the cruiser in rapid speed and made his way to my truck bed, checking out Bobby, Jake, Martin, Sally, Sandra, Sophia, Dorothy, Max, Max 2, and Aaahnold. He proceeded then to my window and told me in typical cop fashion that penguins don’t belong in the back of my truck, the would be happier at the zoo.”

I nodded, imagining how happy those little dudes in tuxedos must be at a zoo with other penguins.

Chuck continued with increased enthusiasm. “I took them, just like the cop told me. Can you believe he had the nerve to pull me over the very next day? I mean, I was just driving down the same damn road and he pulls me over, asshole.”

“For what?” I muttered.

“He walks up to the cab, I roll down the window.”

“Yeah,” I express considerable concern in his circumstance.

“He proceeded to ask, ‘Mr. Conway, why do you still have those penguins and why are they wearing sunglasses.’ I sort of scoff, ya know, and tell him, “officer, you told me to take them to the zoo yesterday. I did and they had a magnificent time, although they seemed a little apprehensive at the lion exhibit. They had so much fun, I decided to take them to the beach today.”

Shaking my head.

Ba-dum-tiss.

Boobs, Bimmers, and Brevity

“I’m not sure there is enough structural integrity for Bondo to be an option.” Me

They really don’t make them like they used to, in all manners and ways. Let’s take a look at the book The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars. In the book, we’re delighted to see charming little appliances going to a semi-far away planet to try and conquer the inevitability of planned obsolescence. How are we much different today, in a world of leases and trade-ins? Is the newer generation actually accepting planned obsolescence? For sure they’re not crafting any sort of plan to try and conquer it. Take cell phones, for example, every year it seems they come up with the “Apple fill in the blank” or the new Samsung “weird name that makes sense to nobody”. We still buy them, at least, some people do. 

I look at all of the forums, social media groups, and even automotive magazines and see that there is some genuine hate going on right now towards our beloved Roundel. People flat out loathe the new designs. I don’t cast the word “hate” out normally but in this circumstance, it’s granted, people are being genuinely nasty about it. It’s to the point that whenever I see a post about a new concept vehicle or prototype, I go out of my way to say something complimentary. There was the early rendering of the “new” Z concept, and people about lost their bowels on their keyboards talking about how crappy it was. “Look at that grill, look at that grill, LOOK AT THAT GRILL!”. Really? Get over it, it’s a component of a vehicle that makes little if any impact on the overall performance of the vehicle. If you’re really in this BMW game because they manufacture “the ultimate driving machine”, then act like it. 

Today, as I was working my knuckle-busting job of detailing cars for people with more money than I, the owner of the car came out and gave me a verbal pat on the back and stated, “thanks for the good work! My wife is going to get a new set of tits, I want her car to be clean”. 

“Great”, I thought to myself, “your wife is getting augmentation to make her feel better about herself, do you want a high five? ” Repulsed, and sort of dismayed, I carried my head high and finished getting all the paint off of her fender where she had annihilated the side of the garage trying to back out. These tits, let’s think about these. 

“Look at those tits! Look at those tits! LOOK AT THOSE TITS!” Jesus Christ man, get a grip. How much different is a population of people in an uproar over a stupid grille design as a bunch of people (and I’m going to keep that an open gender, to be brought up later) getting excited about a new set of boobs? To be fair, and honest, and as pure as I’ve always been with those that follow The Adventures of Nikki Weed, I hate the word tits. As stated before, I hate the word hate, so this really takes the cake. Actually, it’s on my list of five words I better never hear you say. Disrespectful isn’t a strong enough word to encapsulate those four letters for me. Naturally, when the guy today boasted about it, I was a bit peeved. Can we mature as adults past the age of about twelve, apparently not. 

Here’s the correlation between that boob job and that kidney grill that everybody hates, it’s purely aesthetic. Let’s slap some Bondo into some adipose tissue to make you feel better about yourself and be more attractive. Is it really that drastically different? We don’t want to cruise around town with a rusty fender, would we? Why would we feasibly want to walk around with a rack that isn’t superior? I mean, as a man don’t you want to make sure that everyone on the freaking planet stares at your partners’ rack? Does that make you proud? As a woman, does it instill that much more confidence? I mean, you’ll have to buy all new brassieres and learn how to knock over stuff with your new enhanced cup size. Don’t worry, you’ll learn to love it, or will you? 

Those kidneys, it’s the same thing. Aesthetically, they’re a bit to look at. They’re big, they’re sort of flashy, but there are some people that like big and flashy. The way the kidneys are situated in the newer models of BMW, they create cleavage to nestle the Roundel in. Imagine that augmented chest with a diamond necklace dangling dangerously in the schism between boobs, isn’t it going to grab your attention? In this day and age, if you’re not flashy you’re forgotten. 

Even Kia/Hyundai/Ex-Audi got into the flashy boob game. Look at the new Kia Telluride. It’s a fetching concept, attractive lines and such, but it’s been done before. They grab the styling from everything right and good with an all-terrain vehicle (I’m going to avoid using SUV) and plug it into every jam. From the front bumper guard cover back, it’s a conglomeration of all styling that people “like”. Originality was thrown out the door on that one. You want to get groceries with a semi-utility vehicle with a face of a Range Rover, greenhouse styling of an Explorer, the tech from any given JDM vehicle, and a butt straight from Germany, buy this! If you want something edgy, go elsewhere. *This was not a Ford Edge pun*

Planned obsolescence, in the car world, is trying to make your car “fit it”, with the last generation of cars looking like Edsels in a dusty lot somewhere. The designers shave clay until parameters are met, and limits are pushed. The new kidneys are a prime example of such. You can’t help but NOT look at them, like a fake set of boobs. I mean, they’re out there. Women get jealous because other women are better endowed (which, take it from a well-endowed female from practically birth, it’s not great). Women will spend money to become what other people get naturally. Eventually, those perky fake boobs aren’t going to be all jiggle and bounce. You suddenly fit in, but for how long? Until next year when the new fashion is waif-thin models with no curves again? 

Doubt me? Look at the early 2000s then look at the early ’60s. It happens. Curves change. 

Look at the classic lines of the E9. Look at the sweep of the E36. I hated the moment that BMW changed the headlights from four individual lenses to one unibody design, but it grew on me. I hated the Bangle butt, but you know what, after a while, I appreciated it for the limits it pushed for purposes of being different. In cases like the Telluride that just try to fit in, I sort of shrug. I’m guessing the designers at Kia/Hyundai/Ex-Audi have a bit of an inferiority complex or just boxes to check. If you’re going to do something different to your body, be it a human body or a mechanical body, make sure it’s going to stand the test of time. 

4 > 2, but that’s just like my opinion, man

I want you to appreciate the new big kidney BMW’s like you would a big bosom-ed female. On the outside, they might be garish, but what’s inside is what counts. I’m not being nasty towards those that get augmentation nor those that hate the big kidneys. What this article is supposed to teach you is that everything, sadly, fluctuates and changes. You’re going to be complaining about this today and then something completely different tomorrow. Today you’re bitching about not having a D cup. Once you get them you’ll bitch about having to sleep in weird positions and back pain. You complain about the kidney grill now, but wait until everything goes totally electric and visible openings disappear all together. 

What’s your driveway right now, are you a victim of disposable fashion, or are you a tried and true fan of classic line? Just remember, a single strand of pearls never let anyone down. They’ve lasted a heck of a lot longer than random nose piercings. 

Hey, guess who’s back to writing for her own blog and eager to play the “Where’s Nikki” game 🙂

I dug pretty deep to find this one. I was looking for something fun and flashy, and what better than this! Please note, I did not partake in this ride, although it’s totally up my alley!

  1. This location is perched conveniently in a tourist trap of a town. Occasional warm summer breezes caress the various carnival rides during summer. Although this is a re-manifestation of a time long gone was attempted, execution of this plan failed with ridiculously expensive ticket prices. When this location opened in 1943, it was affordable for the whole family. When I was there, I heard multiple people walk out without going on a single ride, due to cost.
  2. Originally built for military families in the area, this regional landmark became a target volatile weather patterns in that area. In the early 1960’s, a wicked weather event came through and wiped it out, leaving it in a state of disrepair for decades. The exposed metal and eroding concrete was finally repaired in 2012, welcoming tourists once again to come spend money. The concept was to rival Coney Island, just without all of the New Jersians, they succeeded.
  3. Much like any sort of tourist trap, it’s very difficult to find actual news articles about this attraction. Although it’s ranking on the top five amusement parks of this type (if I told you, you’re know what it was), it’s hard to even find any history to the building of it. There’s not even a strong Wikipedia page on it, which makes it sort of an anomaly. The only actual reporting I found of any story happening there is a poorly written article about a woman who brought a handicapped child to the park and was upset when she found that her child, who suffered from Spinal Bifida, was not allowed on the rides due to it being dangerous. She continued to make a stink, insisting on trying to get her child on the rides. As far as any other news, about weather, crime, events, there’s practically nothing (except the 320 Yelp reviews which all seem to bitch about price).

Do you enjoy articles like this and want to see more? Consider being a contributor to the page. Seeing as how my last writing gig was a non-paid six week jaunt, I could use a few bones, maybe for a boob job 🙂 Click here to contribute.

Ardent Survival – 70 Pounds Later

“I saw this dog he was chasin’ this rabbit
It was on Sunday, about noon.

I said to the rabbit, “Are ya gonna make it?”
I said the rabbit, ” Ya gonna make it?”
I said to the rabbit, “Are ya gonna make it?”
The rabbit said said, “Well, I got to.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Rabbit”

As I sit on an overly hard chair at a chain coffee shop, I peer over my screen to see a sea of faces that look as melancholy as my almost half empty plastic cup of Americano. These people, zombies really, look as if the vital fluid that its dripping out of the machine over there on the semi sterile surface is going to re-energize their lives in a way they’ve been looking forward to for years. People glance over at me, as I squeak my chair on the stone tile floor and I smile, which gives them an uncomfortable feeling. What’s that odd shape sprawled on her face?

Do I really want to sit here and smile at people like a damn puppet? Not really, but I’m going to try my damnedest. Rejection letters from editors, a business that isn’t exactly taking off at breakneck speed, and a laptop that I’e threatened to toss in the trash can several times has really tested my patience. I am, however, a genial person. Am I going to impose my series of bad decisions and regret on other people? Not today. Today if Friday, that means I eat pizza, which might not seem like much to you, but it’s a freaking monument of survival to me.

I was sitting in the tiny beagle sized bathtub of the ELU the other morning, and by morning I mean 2:30. This is about two hours before the sun decided to poke its head above the bumpy horizon here in Northwest Arizona. I was awake, and it seemed I was going to be awake for a long time. I looked deadly at the wall about two feet in front of my face, focusing on the pock marks of what I can only imagine a failed soap holder left. This was a heavy time of reflection, a sort of reflection that you’re not going to find while trying to reflect. This abrupt, almost violent awakening felt different, and I had to pay attention. I’ve lived too long on gut instincts to ignore it, and although I’d rather be cuddled under my itchy sheets, I decided to sit there.

“It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Water ran hot, cold, and hot again. I let the water out, filled it back up, let it out again thankful that we have on demand hot water and limitless free water (unless you have a conscience about Lake Mead drying up and all that global warming stuff). How many times have I sat in a tub for actual pleasure, the way those people that use bath bombs do? How many times is it for actually cleaning my body as opposed to working through some sort of emotional turmoil or fear or pain? We all have coping mechanisms, maybe it’s water for me, maybe it’s the tub, maybe I just like playing with my rubber ducky and playing motor boat.

A moment hit me, from deep in my past, and I realized what was going on. I was successfully surviving. Not struggling to survive, like almost the entire decade before, but actually acing it. Keeping yourself alive isn’t really that hard for most people, but for me and my mental health it hasn’t been easy. Actually, it’s been a death defying act of perseverance and maybe luck leaving those close to me and even innocent bystanders reeling from the blow. Was I ever trying on purpose to not survive, even though it was made brutally clear a few times that I wasn’t doing a very good job staying alive. I started counting the years backwards, an entire decade, ten very vivid years of trying to survive and to borrow a quote from Bukowski, “living on luck”.

**This is usually where I would put a fancy quote by some obscure philosopher or writer in regards to the topic, but to be fair, and not lead you in the wrong direction, there are no good quotes on Anorexia. It’s not that there are a lack of people talking about it, but there is a definite shortage of quality writers, perhaps if you’re deep in the throws of anorexia, you’re brain dead**

I don’t talk about it much anymore, however it became who I was and what everyone talked about for a long while. It was my identity, and I was good at it. Prior to going off the deep end, going from bulimia to EDNOS, I was a normal looking individual. My cheeks would be puffy from the constant regurgitation (enough said), my eyes always red, and my stomach in a constant state of being hurt and heeling. Bulimia was easy to hide, of course people knew, but what could they do? It was when I started losing teeth when I decided this wasn’t going to work. I had been bulimic for about six years at that point, it really was my friend and coping mechanism.

EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) came into play, and let me tell you, that’s a wild ride, but it never tried to kill me. Bizarre, extremely bizarre. I’d concoct wild food, which I can only compare to the type of things you’d throw into a pig troth along with body parts of of a recent hit (if you’re in the mob). I could go an entire day sustaining on Pineapple Juice, Sake and Cauliflower. The next day I’d be so starved for nutrients and comfort food I’d full out binge on whatever I could find, keeping it in my belly though. Sadness would wash over me after the guilt and I’d be back to eating some sort of pulverized vegetable with some nuts on top, promising myself it was a healthy choice.

One day I had enough, and gave up all together. Eating was too complicated, I couldn’t figure it out. I’d go somewhere and see someone eating casually and feel a sense of intense anger. I became a human ticking time bomb, hating everyone that looked normal primarily due to jealously. I wanted to be normal too, I wanted to do normal stuff like have a meal and not run to a bathroom. I didn’t want to feel the intense depression that came every time I’d eat socially and have to keep food down. How do people day in and day out behave like food isn’t so scary?

**We’re going to fast forward a little bit, I’ll explain later**

Anorexia set in like an unwanted family member on your couch. I was so good at it, and looking back I have no idea how or why. I couldn’t walk up more than two stairs at a time, my muscle mass was gone, you could see every single vein in my body, and I started growing a fine hair all over me. I’d sustain myself on hot water. At my lowest I was 78 lbs, which for me about what I weighed in fourth grade. I wore childrens clothes, I couldn’t work, and my mind was absolutely gone. The lack of nutrition channeled what I did take in toward my vital organs, at that point my brain wasn’t one of them. I was in very bad shape, I needed help, but was too gone to know that.

I sat on a cold slab at my doctors office, trying to get a physical which was required before the treatment center would accept me. There wasn’t much left of me to be scared, I was ambivalent to what was going on, wanting to go exercise. The doctor, with a pale face, the same doctor that had watched me progress through the disorders wouldn’t give me an okay. I was checked into the hospital, with the thought that I wasn’t going to bounce back from this level of malnutrition. I still wanted to exercise, I didn’t see what the issue was, in my mind, what was left of it anyways I was still the fat girl that was getting picked on in school and is still getting picked on.

In the hospital, I threw a tray of food at a nurse. I told the doctor to leave me alone, I was fine. I looked blankly at the television. In a last attempt to get me to eat, a pizza appeared at my bedside, Mellow Mushroom pizza, and I tried to eat. It wasn’t going to happen, I wasn’t ready. I nodded off to sleep, which lasted about two hours until the buzzers and nurses came rushing in.

My heart had stopped. “Big deal,” I though to myself, “I jerk myself awake several times night, this is nothing new”. They thought it was a big deal, I just wanted to sleep. I nodded back off, an hour or so later, same damn thing, heart stopped. Lights go on, nurses surround, my dreams are so rudely interrupted again I cuss a little. The third time, the nurse just flipped the light on, I gave a thumbs up, and life went on until I almost shaken awake by the rudest doctor I’ve ever met or perceived to exist.

“You’re killing yourself, I’m not going to help you until you help yourself. Go ahead, lay there, let people feel sorry for you.” Something along those lines, exact words were minced from my memory. At that point I hated the entire medical profession and anyone that even remotely tried to help me. I escaped from the hospital, and vaguely remember walking down a street lined with trees. I sort of remember going home. That was 2009.

Long story short, I didn’t get better for quite a long time. The unique thing about this chapter of my life is that it’s the only really chronicled chunk of life I’ve got. Somehow, in my scattered, broken mind I thought it was a good idea to keep notes on what was going on. Cryptic to say the least, these notes have stuck with me and I look back on them once in a while for a sense of humility. I’m planning on turning that entire roller coaster ride into a book. Unlike my book The Noodle, The Noose, and The Nectar, it’s not going to try to heal anybody, quite the opposite. As I mentioned before, there isn’t enough potent literature that clearly depicts the existential struggle and psychological damage such an extreme case of any disorder can cause.

As I sat in the tiny tub, I realized that it would fit me much better if I lost about half of my current weight and was 78 pounds again. It hit me hard, I cried, and wanted to be sick again. It was the first time in a very long time that I had thought about seriously devoting time and effort into developing a plan to restrict to nothing. I let the water out of the tub, filled it up again, hot, cold, hot again. How to even begin? I looked at the amount of tub being covered by my butt and the cellulite on my thighs. I cried some more. Pro-ana thoughts flooded my brain quicker than the water filled the tub

“A fat stomach never breeds fine thoughts”

St Jerome

I then got out of the tub, dried off, and went to bed. I was exhausted, my mind wasn’t ready to be reeling at 2:30 in the morning. That’s the thing, though, it never stops, it never goes away. It’s like the freckle on your ankle that you just get used to looking at when you put your socks on. You know about it, it doesn’t bother you anymore, but it’s still there. Other people might not see it, mostly because you wear socks to hide it, but once you get comfortable enough around someone and take your shoes and socks off, there it is! It’s a conversation piece the size of the national debt begging for attention. You want to talk about it, but people don’t “get” it, and the people who do are just as sick as you are. You want to see a sad place, maybe the saddest place in the world? Attend an Overeaters anonymous as a 78 pound person and watch the looks you get.

Hey, this was an uplifting post, wasn’t it. What I’m giving you is a sense of hope and strength in times that might seem troubled. Everything is upsetting nowadays, and the only way to persevere is to be the person you need to be, not the person you were or the person you might be tomorrow. I’m not one of those corny-meme-inspirational-quote-bull shit people. I actually cringe at them and think less of people that have to remind themselves of how positive they are. They’re the fakest people, if you ask me. My word to you actually comes from Robert Frost, “The only way out is through”. Take it for what it’s worth.

So, lets cheer up, shall we? Let’s play guess Where Was Nikki?

There is only one real hot dog in this world.

Here we go! The questions are going to be leading you towards a specific eating location. It could be a fancy place or a food truck, chances are you’ll get it pretty quick. I haven’t done one of these for a while, so I thought I’d take it easy on y’all.

Number One: There is no such thing as a “Chicago” dog without being in the proper zip code. I’ve traveled around the country, seeing promises of the real deal, with all of them falling drastically short. What most places don’t get is that the dog has to be red in color and a Vienna beef, and it has to have celery salt on it. Setting this joint aside is the fact that the menu isn’t vast, it doesn’t like substitutions, and they will cuss you out for being difficult. This Yelp example is prime: “The main cook took my order and called me a bitch while doing it, she cooked my hot dog to the crisp and burnt it till it was black all the way around till it was inedible. When I politely asked for a refund the main cook grabbed my hand and said “bitch get the fuck out of here before i break your nose”

*Pro Tip: To avoid getting verbally assaulted, don’t be needy, don’t be a drunk, and don’t every EVER order ketchup.

Number Two: People love this place even with the verbal assault, and I’m among them. There is a certain cult following that any normal dog joint wouldn’t garner without some serious uniqueness. People love to visit just for the opportunity to write on their Yelp page and be as honest as they can be. One of my favorite Yelp posts include:

” Los Angeles has all the smogs,
And New York has hipsters with dogs,
Houston’s really sticky,
But I’m really picky,
I’ll only eat Chi-town hot dogs.”

*Pro Tip: The Best people watching is somewhere around the 3-5 am rush on Friday and Saturday nights. Bring a camera, take notes.

Number Three: Politics are taboo when introduced into a business setting. This establishment went all out recently being anti-certain political figures. Their sign is a glorious representation of what free speech is supposed to be, and also a cautionary tale on how to run your business into the ground while becoming internet famous. Certain people claim it’s the last good hot dog stand not to be ruined by gentrification (okkaaayyyy) and others claim it’s just a publicity “schtick” gone amuck. Either way, their making bank capitalizing on the fact people like to go there to experience the “schtick” only to turn to Yelp to complain about said “shtick”, and inspire more people to go and see what the fuss is all about. As one Yelp snowflake found out:
“Literally, not joking the second my BF and I walked in, the lights behind the counter were flashing on and off, and I was curious what was happening.  Before I knew it, I saw two large exposed breasts pop out of no where.  And the guys behind the counter were cheering this cashier on as she put on a show for two drunk degenerate male customers.  Apparently, that is what you get when you order a chocolate shake on the “secret menu.”

*Pro Tip: Don’t order the $20 Chocolate shake

Where were we? Circa December 2012? Leave comments below and don’t hesitate to share.

The Kingman Conspiracy – Denial In The Desert

“As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means. “

Albert Camus

The sun sinks low on the horizon of barren mountains. Hues of turn signal amber and transmission fluid blot against an already graying sky as you sink back in to your rocking chair. Holding a perfectly cheap glass of Cabernet you glance to the east and admire the fact that the lights twinkling in the sky are about twenty miles away. You take a sip and enjoy your distance, realizing that tomorrow, come nine am you’ll be back there, among those people. The citizens of the nearby town, the city of Kingman.

Is that person me? Maybe. Am I going to go into detail? Of course. Are you sick of me painting these pictures of desert landscape with words? Probably, however, I’ve been in a damn writing slump and I thought I’d try to knock myself out of it. I figured if I revisited something very familiar to me, describing scenery with words (if you’re not a member of the BMW CCA in Pennsylvania, you’re missing out on my latest piece that describes what it’s like to be young and sad driving along Lake Shore Drive north of Chicago….now THAT article paints a picture). Another hiccup in my normal writing routine has been the inner introvert has reared it’s ugly head, so much that I don’t even feel worthy of writing a damn blog post that maybe 20 people see.

Aside that, let’s talk about camels, UFO’s, and a hell of a lot of conspiracy theory. To pepper in a few self-relevant ideas and a really cool true story of a transmission shop would only ice the cake, right? Buckle in, I’m using bold type face…aka: Blogging Game Face Strategy 101.

The Hills Are Not What They Seem

The perky little city of Kingman Arizona sits an an advantage over ghost in every direction. Places like Yucca, Valentine, and even a place called Santa Claus didn’t survive. Interstate bypasses, a lack of interest in tourist traps, and a fallen through real estate investment scheme (look up Mohave Heights) renders these places pretty obsolete. Kingman had an advantage, being an epic stopping point along Route 66 back in the day, later a watering hole along 93, then a fuel stop along I-40. It survived when others struggled, a story of an ardent community, not letting itself become the cobweb ridden byway of the west.

Why, is the optimal question. Kingman itself is situated in a nice little nook, a low spot sort of, between areas of inhospitable terrain and desert. Upon standing in the middle of Beale Stret in downtown Kingman, you can look in any direction and see the vast, ominous sky above even more angry desert. The main drag is adorable, tiny shops creating revenue for a downtown that otherwise would have been boarded up years ago are littered between empty store fronts. Glazing of storefronts are like a checkerboard of dark and light, offering everything from amazing soap to crap that’s labeled “vintage”. It’s Anytown-USA. Why didn’t it die?

Let’s talk about the albatross about six miles from that adorable Main Street experience. Imagine you’re walking through Mayberry (which isn’t a bad parallel as far as little downtown drags go) and you head out towards Mount Pilot. You’re having a good time, windows down music from the local AM station 1070 Classic Country howling from behind, when all of a sudden it goes from malts to machine guns. Cruising down Route 66 you roll up on a military testing/training facility. Depending on the decade, you’re going to see a graveyard of spooky aircraft consuming acres of desert or actual planes with mounted gun-guys pointing machine guns.

Travel twelve miles further (in current time) to a land of opportunity, a land of milk and honey, a land of…off-gridders. You cruise at a comfortable 80 mph down Route 66 and notice the on the side of the road there are little, not even secondary roads, not even tertiary roads, but whatever comes after that. A mule path perhaps, but that leads to an actual domicile, a place a real live person inhabits. Miles from nowhere, and on an island more remote than Gilligan knew. As you progress the almost 60 miles down Route 66 between actual cities, you see this is very VERY common. There are people living up in those hills, next to those weird barren mountains. Dirt roads are your only choice should you choose to adventure off othe beaten path, however, there’s never a good reason to venture off that path. A pit of Mohave Green Rattlers are waiting to take a taste of your flesh.

But It’s A Dry Heat

How do you get people to move to such a desert oasis as this? Easy, pump up the fact that although the temperature gets into the triple digits on a very regular basis, it’s a dry heat. It’s true, it can be 105 degrees here, Fahrenheit of course, and it’s not as miserable as you might think. One of my most vivid memories of my first real job was working at a nursery in north Chicago when the temperature rose to almost 108, with humidity at almost 80%. Some of you, without knowledge of the midwest, will call bluff. I can tell you, since there is at least one body of water within one mile of just about anywhere, that will assist the humidity to skyrocket. We pretty much boarded up for a few days, it was unhealthy to be outside. Running our sprinklers made it worse, fungus sat in quicker than you could say Copper Sulfate.

This, is why people are driven here. I know if you’ve had any experiences in the Midwest or even a tropical vacation know that humidity is your enemy. Just think about that thing your hair does when it gets humid. Not enough Aqua-Net and ball caps will save you, you will end up looking like Bozo. People look at the real estate, are astonished by the low, low pricing and then look at Wikipedia for a brief synopsis of what they can expect weather wise. 110, maybe, on the hottest, but the humidity is almost absent.

You know what else contributes to humidity, fucking plant life.

Transpiration. That’s what plants do, they pretty much breathe moisture into our surroundings. Remember all of those magazine articles that you’ve seen or have been shown that proclaim that houseplants create a cleaner atmosphere in your home? Of course they do, they are pretty much little humidifiers. Stagnant house air gets processed through stomata, the plant processes what it can, and then pretty much breathes out a breath of semi-humid air. (All plants differ). This, in a very VERY broad scale, makes the area make sense.

Lack of rain fall is one thing, lack of plant life that can process the toxins of the world around us is another thing. Take for example the smell of Kingman after a rainfall. The residents of the town seriously develop a sort of apprehension when there is rain in the forecast. True story, another cashier had a look of horror after I said it was looking like rain. A pale wash covered his acne ridden pubescent face, as if I had just asked him to prom. I didn’t get it, usually rain is an event to garner some sort of regalia. What’s the big deal?

At first, my speculation was that the “monsoon” would create a flash flood and people would be inconvenienced. Fact of the matter is that nobody, of sound mind and judgement, would traverse an area let alone habitat an area that is in the bottom of a wash. After the first real “monsoon” rain, I realized there was an odd aura in the air, beyond the smell. It didn’t feel natural, and maybe my could be prom-date had that hypersensitivity to atmosphere and weather vibes. A more logical explanation would be he didn’t have good tires on his weather beaten 20 year old Cavalier (pure speculation, but good God there are a lot of them out here.).

So, full disclosure, I’ve been around massive cities during a torrential downpours and never have I seen people look so frightened. The pure difference is that, in Chicago for example, the rains provide a smell, a semi-toxic, yet still cleaning smell. There’s still notes of earth (a bacteria that resides in soil), and smog, but at least it smells like it’s been water washed. Take for example a dog that has a bath, I don’t care what kind of dog shampoo you use, the dog still comes out smelling like a wet dog. It’s a sort of simple, dog smell. When Kingman get’s a dog bath, it smells toxic. What’s hiding in these rocks?

You promised Aliens

Be patient, I’m getting to them.

You also promised Camels

Route 66. Close your eyes and imagine the beauty that you’ll encounter traversing the great west along the Mother Road. Pavement caresses your tires as perhaps you let the windows down in your rented Mustang. Your passport was stamped at LAX and you’re embarking on the great American road trip. Three carefully packed bags move casually back and forth as you go around gentle curves and take the opportunity to pass other cars. It’s the big open country and you’re from Asia. Didn’t see that coming, did ya? Fact of the matter is that there are a hell of a lot more foreigners enjoying the Mother Road than there are full-blooded Americans. This sort of makes me sad.

Keep in mind, living directly next to (I was corrected by my Mom when I said I lived “on” Route 66, she said I’d have gotten run over, because that means I live in the middle of the road) I get to see them all. I get to have an even more vivid experience when I travel to the bar next door to get some free wifi. It’s a touristy place, a local place, a watering hole for the masses. Everyone is welcomed to write upon the great yellow walls and document their visit. Faded sharpie reminds me of Mike and Connie from North Dakota who visited in 2009. A big fat sharpie demand much more attention, documenting Pepone and his visit in 2019. Of all the markings, HK Fayino from Japan takes up the most room on the wall along with his travelling companion (the smallest writing) Y. Nakagta.

I can’t help but think back to the times of before Kingman, when Lt. Beale, a Naval officer was sent west, some say he lost a bet, to test the viability of camels as transportation in the Southwest.

Beales Blog, 20 October, 1957:

Day 17, water is scarce and the camels seem like they’re spooked by something. Unknown noises heard in the calley at night, causing some of the men to lay awake, tossing from side to side in fear. Our previous couple of weeks were wrought with curiosity and to be honest, I’m sick of having to explain our “odd shaped horses” to the locals. The moral is low, however, the men have their sights on getting down to some sort of civilization. I’m scared for the camels, for the men have been looking longing ly at them.

The feasibility of using these camels in such terrain is questionable. I enjoy the temperament of them over, say, a burro, however they seem to react to everything. Just seven days prior, my favorite camel decided he was going to mingle with the local reptiles. A nasty bite to the left hindquarters left him incapacitated and I had to put the poor beast out of it’s misery. Although I gain no thrill in killing, it was a good feeling to put it out of its misery. Against my pleading, my men ate the meat, which I was told was similar to hare of back East.

Come morning, our wagon train is slated to embark on the passage due West of our current site. Lack of vegetation leaves us vulnerable to the local native, although I’ve been promised they are of peaceful breeding. I have yet to encounter a tribe that has been hospitable. I’ve been informed that upon traversing this mountain range, there’s little to now human life for almost two hundred miles. I must have faith in my men and my fleet of camels. They are sure footed, but aren’t very easy on the eyes.”

Pure speculation. That was 100% fictitious, but from what I’ve read and studied on the whole adventure, it’s not far from the truth. His great adventure eventually became the Beale Wagon Road, which then became parts of Interstate 40 and Route 66. I don’t think anybody, including Lt. Beale ever wanted to really live here, however, it just sort of happened. It reminds me of the joke I used to have when I moved to South Carolina, people would asks how I ended up there, I’d respond, “I got a flat tire and decide to stay.” I think people settled here after their camels died.

In all seriousness, to the west of Kingman, there is the most treacherous pass along all of Route 66. Switchbacks through evil desert created a need, a need for skilled men to drive wagon trains across the pass without getting killed. Before the “hired drivers”, many of those that tried to traverse the pass without aid would find their family and livestock at the bottom of a desert ravine. Currently the stretch of road is dangerously narrow, no Jersey barriers, and 460 curves, many of them dissolving tight radious curves and hairpins down mountains. Imagine back in the day trying lead a pack of mules pulling a cart on rocky terrain.

Who’s from here, anyway?

Beale has been dead for centuries and camels never became a thing. The Mother Road came and went, as the Interstate system expedited travel. The military base closed a long time ago, and now sits as a graveyard. In all matters of practicality, this should have been a ghost town, but where the heck do these people come from? You’ll meet some interesting people in Kingman, three types actually. You’ve got the victims of oppression, the victims of California, and the victims of the penal system. This is a grossly over estimated generalization, however, it does make up for at least 70% of the population. We’ve quantified who they are, but never really said why.

Here’s something, land is so freaking cheap, there’s no reason not to want to move here. The numbers on paper make it seem like some sort of desert paradise, less than $2,000 an acre, and you own your property. People with modest to no income can actually LIVE somewhere. Although it will mean they have to haul water to their homes, and harness whatever mother nature provides energy wise. People look past that and hop on board. The pioneer spirit lives on (these people should really be given a camel on the governments tab).

People from the East, those of us that are used to the stuffy subdivisions, public transit lines, and car pool lanes love the breath of fresh air. There are almost no traffic jams. There’s a certain allure of being a mile away from your nearest neighbor, a stark contrast to McMansions that many of us have become accustomed to. The area surrounding Kingman has done a fabulous job of keeping an absolute potpourri of people (not necessarily different colors or people). There aren’t many “affluent” neighborhoods, per-se. You cruise a street and see a burnt out trailer, a meticulously up-kept adobe, and a brick home with real grass. It makes it feel like a melting pot, where everyone can get along, on the same block. No need to build special communities for different income brackets, let’s just glob them all together. All we want to do is live on a “good” street back East, here, there are no “good” or “bad” streets. (Except swanky Valle Vista).

There’s also the Californians, that are the nicest people in the entire town. They have come to seek some sort of peace and quiet. Most, if not all Californians that I’ve met that live here have expressed that living in California is merely surviving. They wake, work, repeat. Money goes to inflated housing costs, taxes, and just freaking a tank of gas. The idea of moving someplace that relaxes the stress and allows freedom of a money hungry state is a shining beacon on the horizon of hope. Without exaggeration, the typical real estate agent here works with 70% of their clients from California. There’s a massive flight, and I can’t blame them, being a refugee from Chicago at one time myself.

Stark contrast to that, the ability to have an acre of land in the middle of the desert, where police are few and far between , to cook all the meth you want. In addition to that, the presence of a state prison as well as county make it a hot bed of criminal activity, vagrants, and general mental illness. Those released from the prison and county have no way to get back to where they are from. Some of them picked up 75 miles away, have a hard time justifying trying to take the walk back home, through desert. Most of them just set up shop on a street corner (or in one case, in the downtown district with a tent), hoping for better days to come. None seem to get cracked down on, the same homeless guy sits at the same street corner day to day, never getting help, baked by the sun to an unnatural brown. The crazy screaming man in Big Lots is excused by the cashier as “just a little sick”.

Remember that potpourri I spoke of, we’re talking types of people not races of people. A gross over-generalization in the world today is stereotyping people as being good or bad based on race or religion. Churches are few and far between here, as a matter of fact, the local Catholic church isn’t a towering stained glass architectural marvel, it’s in a strip mall with cardboard over one of the windows. Race diversity isn’t a thing either, unlike back East where there is a population demanding reparations or like California where you have everything and anybody. The breakdown here is unlike almost any in the country, with the largest minority being Latinos at only 11%. Less than 1% of the entire population here is African American. Compound that with the fact less than 5% are foreign born, Kingman should be pumping the Star Spangled Banner through the loud speakers.

Some people, especially the old time purists and “wall builders” could look upon these numbers and start ordering a U-Haul post haste. Not so fast, let’s look at a few other things. These statistics has driven a flight of people, which in turn has driven a whopping increase in real estate. In just ten years, the average new home cost went from a modest $80,000 to $180,000. An increase of $10,000 per year? Astounding for a sleepy desert town. Employment is high, with only a 6% unemployment rate, but if you know me, there’s got to be an ellipses somewhere in this paragraph…crime!

What? White people commit crimes? That goes against everything that the television and YouTube tells me. Yeah, buddy, although the fine citizens of Kingman doesn’t go around killing each other on a daily basis like say, Chicago, they have no regard of a mans property. Even in the two months that I’ve been here, there has been a huge rash of mail theft, stealing everything from a mans junk mail to another mans medical supplies. Kingman has one of the highest property crime rates in all of Arizona, at a 71 out of 100 (the state is at about 42). And the drugs, which probably attribute to the crimes, are also rampant.

” I believe in prescription drugs. I believe in feeling better.”

Denis Leary

Let’s talk about drugs real quick. The opiod epidemic, blah blah, you hear about it every day on the news, but is it really that bad. The answer, straight forward, no exaggeration is yes. One local independent drug store distributed 5.6 million Norco and Oxy pills in less than 6 years. At the time that divvied out to about 200 pills per every man woman and child. Surprisingly, those numbers aren’t even that far off par for the area, and Arizona in particular. Kingman, however, has been a little more vulnerable to the mass prescribing of opiods for simple illness due to lack of adequate health care. The two main health care campuses have general wait times of upwards of 90 days to see a simple practitioner for a check up. You can only imagine what an emergency room visit will get you, in one documented case an amputated finger (that was later determined to have been easily saved) and pretty much life time supply of pain meds.

A prescription for Norco 5/500 for a tooth extraction ten years ago was common, now you get a prescription of “prescription Ibuprofen” (which is like taking four over the counter Ibuprofens). The lack of easy access to these pills has pushed people to looking to get their “kicks” (it’s a joke, because Kingman is on Route 66), in other forms. Meth and Heroin have become saturated in a typically pill popping community. This has happened almost everywhere in the country, but Mohave County and Kingman in general have been hardest hit. Being the county that gobbled up the most opiods in the state, they’re also the ones searching desperately for alternative since the reduction of prescriptions being written.

This also pushes people to need more money to fund the new, sometimes more costly alternative. Chain reaction causes crime, people resorting to desperate measures to find a little something to hock or even sell on Marketplace. It’s always an entertaining day when those that have been stolen from find their items being sold on a public marketplace and the conversation that publicly ensues. This distraction with needing to get high has resulted in chunks of the community being deemed as “off limits” unless you’re looking for trouble. A glace from afar is enough to see the crisis, don’t forget, this community is almost all white. Crime? Where did that come from?

Speculation Makes Me Thirsty

To go a little further in depth on those off grid dudes, hip transplants and whack-a-moles have in common, what’s a basic need for all humanity? Aside from shelter and food, these people need water, which as you can imagine isn’t really plentiful out here in the middle of Beale’s Country. Those monsoon rains that bring what little bit of rainfall we get a year isn’t nearly enough to sustain the population that has developed here. The entire water system is fed by 14 deep (when I say deep, I’m talking 600′ deep) wells in two different valleys. To put the depth into perspective, the deepest dry caverns in the US are just 60 miles away at a depth of 200′, travel that three times and you’ll finally hit the water.

The bigger deal, above the scarcity of water, is the fact that the water itself is just garbage. Although the water reports show that the water itself, when tested at several stations around the city, show within safe parameters, that really only meets a requisite for the Clean Water Act. Within tested elements here, the water is at maximum safe levels of such elements as Selenium and Chlorine along with others. When compared to different water reports across the country, the level of selenium present is higher than almost anywhere. Of course, the topography and overall geography has a massive impact on the content of selenium. It is interesting, however, that when looking at Selenium as a “health supplement”, it aids in the alleviation of many age related illnesses such as Alzheimers, cardiovascular diseases and even boosts immune system performance. Is it a coincidence that Kingman has recently marked itself as one of the best places to retire in Arizona? Is it the water?

Looking past the health benefits (if you’d like to call it that), let’s look at the general all around hardness of the water. I’ve never in my life experienced anything so terrible and un-water-like in all my life. I did an experiment on my own little houseplant where I’d mist him with tap water every day for a week. The poor little guys soil would dry up within a day, due to not being able to grab moisture out of the air because his little plant pores couldn’t open effectively. Alternately, after two weeks of misting with distilled water, his leaves cleared up and the soil in his pot remained moist for three days between watering. Think about it like a body, you soak your skin with this water daily, using soap that doesn’t lather and when it does it doesn’t rinse off. Your skin is much like that little plant, your insides are being trapped inside this film, making you unable to do a normal sweat.

Let’s connect a few dots. Temperatures reaching 105 degrees here on a semi-daily basis + showering due to being hot + antiperspirants + hard water = a toxic body trap. Sweat can release toxins such as alcohol (gasp, of course, haven’t you heard the term sweat one out?) and cholesterol. In fact, even though there are millions of “cleansing” diets, the most efficient way to cleanse your body is to sweat like a prostitute in a church. Here, I’ve been hard pressed to really work up a sweat when doing outdoor activity. I’ve ridden my bicycle miles and miles, I’ve jogged until my lungs gave up and even ran a buffer for two hours straight. Nothing. No sweat. A completely unnatural feeling. I have to assume the rest of the residents feel the same, toxic way. How long can a person be sweat logged without long term effects? Are the water softener people in on it, to be able to charge $X per month to allow your skin to sweat.

Those not able to open their tap and taste the wonderfully hard water that comes out have to make an epic trek with a tank and fill up at a “bulk water” station. This is quite a sight to see, typically an old, scary looking tank on the back of some old pick up or makeshift trailer pulls up to a big pipe like hose (a stand pipe). For a low low fee, water pours out of this rubbery hose at a rate of what seems like 50 gallons per minute and fills these tanks. From there, the water is toted to domiciles across the valley for home use. These homes lack basic fresh water supply, other than what gets transported in the tank. These “off the grid” set up are very common, meaning you can’t take a trip into town without seeming somebody hauling water.

This in itself isn’t a problem, the tanks themselves are questionable, as well as what happens to the grey and black water upon being used. Let’s look at most of the tanks, old and agricultural looking, most looking to be made before the hype and research into BPA-free vessels. Could a leeching effect over time alter the mentality of these off-grid individuals. Commonly, those living off the grid do so because they are minimalists (due to lack of funds) or minimalists (due to lack of interest in modern society). Those lacking funds will use the same tank for maybe decades, accumulating whatever goes into that tank. Those with the funds may or may not upgrade to a BPA-free tank, but at a huge price tag. How do those tanks even get cleaned out, if ever.

Where does the water go, however? Septic tanks? I’m skeptical because since being here, I have yet to see even one Honey Wagon out in the boondocks. Do they have an open pit method where they rely on the rocky terrain to filter the grey and black water back down to the water table? After years of such behavior, does that require a person to move the septic fields in order to avoid an over saturation? I don’t honestly see poop travelling through rock that fast.

“What most people don’t understand is that UFOs are on a cosmic tourist route. That’s why they’re always seen in Arizona, Scotland, and New Mexico. Another thing to consider is that all three of those destinations are good places to play golf. So there’s possibly some connection between aliens and golf. “

Alice Cooper

Let’s Talk About Them Aliens

Certainly, if you’re still reading you’re either waiting for me to get to the juicy alien gossip, or you’re really REALLY bored (or fueling a punch list of things to send me hate mail about). The fact of the matter is that, the aliens are here, and nobody is talking about it. No, I didn’t gargle with Jim Beam for breakfast, the evidence is plastered on almost every “real” citizens face. A blank look without personality, and sort of paranoia about them. Could these people be scared that their true identity will be discovered in a wild Scooby Doo type mask grab? Ruh-ro, Raggy.

No, the citizens aren’t really aliens, but there are strong alien ties that just about nobody even wants to acknowledge. This little town has a better story than Roswell and is more accessible than Area 51, but none of this is being commercialized. The tourist trap mentality is absolutely superglued to the Route 66 mentality, which as was mentioned before, is becoming a strictly foreign adventure. Real Americans want to “see them aliens”, as this whole Storm Area 51 phenomenon is proving. Deserts often offer up the chance close encounter opportunity, but how many can atually produce on this promise? Think of the revenue!

Back in the golden days of Project Blue Book, which has recently been brought into the public eye with a television show based after it, alien air craft sighting were rampant. Starting with one adamant pilot in flying over Mount Rainier in 1947, insisting on the existence of a space ship passing him at a high rate of speed, the government had to do something to appease the masses coming forth with claims of similar nature. So many people came forward, from all over he country with these claims, a sort of fill in the blank form was created to deal with all of the alien allegations. These over inflated imaginations along with the science fiction fad on the golden screens fueled the almost demand for proof of aliens (or at least disprove it so they could get on with their lives).

*Full disclosure* I’m of the mindset that recently the media has become so focused on “illegal aliens” that it has skewed the focus from the extraterrestrial sort.

Kingman in 1953 had their very own Blue Book encounter, which has gone on the books as being one of the most difficult encounters to disprove. Some claim there were two crashes, others just one big one. To summarize and not lean too heavily on one author or publication or another, there was something that was investigated. The what has been bickered about, with one Air Force engineer from the 50’s going on record in pseudonym and a whole lot of speculation as well. The when was May and the where has been elusive.

What can be brought up as pretty conclusive evidence is that of the almost 13,000 alleged encounters with unidentified aircraft, only 701 were left unsolved, the Kingman encounter being one of them. The informant that went on record promised, under a sort of oath, that he saw little grey men in suits, a pie tin shaped saucer, and a few other people researching the same wreckage. Although they weren’t able to speak with each other, speculation of the craft led them to believe is was of a different world. The story gets even more outrageous, claiming there were survivors of the wreckage, which the informant promised was pristine although it crashed at a high rate of speed.

Even in modern times, people still glance at the skies at night, wondering what’s up there. The desert out here in Kingman is the perfect place to have “an encounter”, and there’s no reason that there couldn’t be something of the like set up. Who’s to say one of those little aliens that survived didn’t set up shop in Kingman and sell donuts out of a food truck? A strategic tourist trap to view the night sky with the hopes of seeing a craft over Hualapi Mountain, that’s a revenue cow right there. Milk the teet of extraterrestrials, publicize the crap out of it.

The oddest thing about Kingman, is nobody talks about it. In typical semi-rural communities there’s always a folklore or legend that people talk about. Rhinelander, Wisconsin had the Hodag, a terrifying looking tusk and fang ridden cross between a wolverine and an iguana (something like that). They embrace it, throw a festival for it, it’s even mentioned in Paul Bunyan stories. The Lizard Man of Lee County South Carolina has several YouTube videos made of it, exploring the swamps where he used to roam (or still does). CNN made a special trip to Lee County to cover a report of the Lizard Man attacking a young couples car. Pure imagination has driven publicity and revenue, why can’t Kingman do the same with something that actually has some credibility. Travel about 25 miles west on Interstate 40 to a semi-ghost town of Yucca to find the one and only museum/exhibit on the UFO crash, that’s it.

“The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.”

Noam Chomsky

Stagnation is the Fear Of Change

Why aren’t people leaving, since there are many websites documenting how much people actually hate it here? Certainly people aren’t staying because the school system is top notch (it isn’t), or the health care system is top notch (they seriously fly people out, via helicopter, every day). The local politics suck, with the mayor co-owning a construction company that caters towards building the $180,000 homes popping up. We’ve spoken of the water, the climate, yet people still end up here, and stay.

They stay and post on the Buy, Sell, Trade Facebook page that they are in need of everything including free cars, free food for their children, and housing less than $300 for a family of five. They stay and ask for help getting fuel enough to drive to Bullhead City and beyond to get a box of groceries for their family. Many of these people start the posting with “New to Area”, wondering how the heck they got here in the first place. No exxageration, today, “Need clothes for daughter” and “Need Pool Umbrella”. So much need, so little help, unless it seems you reach out to the neighbors that you hardly know.

Does this sound familiar? Sort of like the quote by our buddy Noam earlier? Keep in mind, I stand behind to political agenda, nor do I pretend that one ideology is going to cover 100% of any persons beliefs. IF you’ve read me for long enough, you can see that I’m a pretty well rounded and well-read person. I don’t fall to the feet of one politician, one philosopher, or one brewery. The world is too rich in opinions to concentrate yourself on only like minded individuals. This, at it’s most barbaric form seems to be what Kingman is, and will remain. As one person described it, “it’s the good ole boy system in the wild west”.

People come in droves, with the joke that it’s the first place along I-40 East of California that has a Starbucks. There’s a great energy of renewal here, a great sense of progress. At the same time, looking upon the statistics of the past ten and twenty years, it has progress like a constipated bowel movement. Prime example is the investment in the youth by building a splash park in a lower income area. A great sum of money was invested, with the promise to “keep kids off the streets and in a safe place”, and within a month, the splash park was vandalized with bats to, and no kidding, “make the water go faster”. The theory of improvement is only as good as the foundation that the progress is based on.

“A great place to live!” What community doesn’t say that to increase the potential of new businesses and residents? To be honest, though, how many City websites have an entire tab dedicated to debunking what’s “rumor” and what’s truth? There is a stark lack of public interest in what goes on in city cousin meetings and what gets passed as far as tax and what not, citizens don’t know how to differentiate between a “prepared food tax” and seeing the “food tax” on the bottom of a grocery store receipt. This sin’t entirely due to the fact people don’t care, they’re given very few, if any reputable sources of information and news in the community.

Poignant events can happen, without a reliably and free source of news that isn’t tainted with a smiling happy feeling. The local newspaper, The Daily Miner is hard pressed to run real cutting edge articles that aren’t about nice things like parks and puppies. These articles make casual tourists think the city is a little Utopia, as opposed to a tax ridden crime filled burg. Real news gets looked over, as in the case of seeing roll over accident with helicopter assistance on a main drag. I looked for the next three days in all forms of media in the area, with no print or video coverage. Being hundreds of miles away from the nearest actual broadcaster, has it’s charms, especially when you’re trying to obscure the facts of the tiny town the the desert hides. If you’re getting news in Kingman over the air, it’s via bunny ears and from Phoenix or Las Vegas, covering issues that hardly pertain to you.

The “knowledge is power” idea is lost, especially when it comes down to where money goes in Kingman. The example of the splash pad is one thing, however, explaining where and how the taxes get collected is another very grey area. The residents of the city are so confused and uneducated about how and where they get taxed, the city has a little visited page explaining the differences. “TPT” (transaction privilege tax, pretty much, be thankful you can purchase things tax) is different from the typical “state tax” that some from out east are used to. This can often mask the fact that the income tax is high, but can sneak under the radar as being a low tax state because the actual state tax is low.

Without the education of what’s happening, the typical person transplanted from afar is ignorant to actual circumstances around them. This creates an odd citizen base, one that doesn’t know exactly what to be angry about until they’re told. A population too focused on getting another score of drugs, trying to clothe their kids, and trying to obtain a pool umbrella is too focused on tiny things to be able to help the big picture. People are still getting taxed, just masked under the radar of commerce differentiation. It’s a big city, with a small town mask.

Ole Home Place

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”
Ken Kesey

Here I am. I’ve spent an entire (almost) 35 years being a human on this planet living in almost every time zone in the continental US. I’ve lived in the converted lakeside cottage in a low rent part of town, I’ve lived in the second oldest home in an almost ghost town, I’ve done suburbia, big city, small city, Civic. They’re not all the same, they’re not all distinctively different. As a matter of fact, the same tiny town in Rawlings, Wyoming might as well be Freiburg, Maine. People are trying to survive, and nowadays the focus is too dedicated on diversity to try and help themselves. Kingman is sort of an enigma to me, and for once I feel compelled to help them.

There is a sort of pride that one should take in a place of residence, take for example Schulenburg, Texas. The town itself is an afterthought, probably destined to be a ghost town upon the creation of the I-10 corridor, but they kept on, and kept pride. An old town glamour resonates and it takes on it’s own personality. The town crier practically delivers gossip to your front door orally and the mayor comes out and kisses babies at car shows. These two towns are tragically similar, but have taken very different paths. I saw Schulenburg, I decided to go there and host a car show, I generated thousands of dollars for their small economy. The car show pride here is clique at best, nobody shaking hands, most people balking at the fact you’re looking at their car.

I’m not waving a political banner here, nor am I running for an office. There is a large part of me, however, that feels that someone with a genuine compassion for citizens and desire for change could do some good. Are you going to see election signs stating “Weed For Mayor”, maybe (if only to see what the papers would run against me). Consider just this much, would you trust the person that wants to see you come to town in order to take your money or someone that wants you to stay in town so you can save your money?

I can’t stand the epidemic, and I’ve only been here two weeks. My heart worries for those that have been in this town much longer. How long can you deal before you absolutely break free of this town and move to someplace like, well, Prescott.

More trees, less drugs, and alien tourism for all.


Progress..

Cool piece in progress, stay tuned for further info.

In the meantime? Here’s a photo of a dog having a hell of a good time eating a toilet paper tube.

Tending to Try, Promising To Persist

As the temperature reached a very comfortable (for a cactus) 103* outside yesterday, I sat with an ocsilating fan perched on a box of record blowing on me. The AC had gone out in the “Emergency Living Unit” that we bought a few weeks ago.

I know, I know, “Emergency Living Unit” seems like a really harsh term for a perfectly nice camper, but whenever I grasp at the camper door, my eyes can’t help but be attracted to it. A sticker, directly next to where you have to wrap your fingers around the white metal that opens the door, reminds you that this is not a typical RV. Stated on the same sticker that says “Emergency Living Unit” is the phrase, “Not suitable for recreational purposes”. Great no, fun is allowed to be had in the old E.L.U.

I know enough to know why, but it’s still quite amusing to me. This plain Jane tin box was a purpose built bumper pull unit from Gulf Stream Coach, right in Napanee, Indiana. For those that have been reading my junk for a few years, this location might seem familiar. For those that aren’t seasoned veterans of “The Adventures”, I’ll just summarize it this way, I spent a hell of a lot of time in Napanee, picking up RV’s for transport. This white unit that I’m calling home at the second made somebody very happy and secure at one time in it’s life.

I did some research into this particular model, the “Emergency Living Unit”, and found that it was produced in response to Hurricane Katrina. The amount of units that were available in contrast to those that were actually produced was astounding, which many people being put on a waiting list months long. Gulf Stream put their profits aside for a while and worked with FEMA to produce low cost, home like bumper-pull models to house those displaced and pretty much homeless. It is very likely that this particular unit saved someone from homelessness.

When we first set eyes on the E.L.U, I could tell it wasn’t a stereotypical RV. After looking at probably close to a hundred RV’s while doing transport, this one lacked so much complexity. Doing a once over, I realized that it was built to be an actual house, not a thrown together weekend warrior toy. The floors were actually solid and made of a decent material, the electrical was ample enough to meet the demands of a person needing a real housing unit. Hell, even the storage makes sense. Although these were not built to travel to Yellowstone and create a picture perfect family vacation, they’re damn well built (except for the windows, but that’s another story).

Broad strokes here, some people look at my decision to move west, pioneer new ground and live in a camper as reckless. Moving across country, to place that has incredibly hostile weather, full of strangers, and without having a place to live right away wasn’t really a pleasure trip. It wasn’t the first time I’d done it before though either. “Why there?” “What’d you move there for?” and my personal favorite, “When are you coming home?” are some questions I’ve been fielding for the extent I’ve been gone.

A better question for you is, why are you still there? Why didn’t you move? What keeps you in Colby, Kansas? Why are you so keen on staying in Missoula, Montana? Are you really that happy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Granted, this whole trip could have been plotted out a little bit better, fine tuned around some corners and I could have honed in on a career BEFORE moving, but hey, when the road calls, I listen.

Take the van for a second, Tan Van, we’ll call him (because he’s so much more than such a van. This son-of-a-bitch toted almost 4,000 pounds of U-Haul trailer with his over 40 year old body. It’s questionable as to how many miles he had when we started the trip in South Carolina, but my approximation is that we’ve put at least 7,500 miles on him with side adventures to all states surrounding us and the whole California trip. The 318 four barrel decided it was up to the job, grumping a little bit at times, but never gave up. “Oh, you want to go up that hill, that’s cool, but I can’t sprint. We’re going to have to hang with the big trucks.” Mechanically, that damn van made me proud, and maybe gave me the feeling that everything was going to be okay.

The fan persisted to perform, when hell, I’d probably have given up. Countless bottles of oil, puking out the main seal, a transmission leak that seems to never be fixed, and those same four bullet holes we started with just make him more loveable. I mean right now I’m looking out the window at it, haphazardly parked at an angle next to the E.L.U and he looks like he’s smiling.

He’s fucking smiling at me. A goofy, toothless grin that you’d see at a family reunion or something. He’s a friend right now. I hate him at times, but if that van had a set of arms, I’m promising you it’d offer you a hug. He has lasted 40+ years of god knows what sort of owners, what sort of weather he’s driven through, and just think about the number of times he’s probably been pooped on. He hasn’t given up. People might have given up on him, which led to him being sold, then sold again.

The legend is he lived on an Air Base in New Mexico. Legend is he was owned by a teenage girl with dreadlocks. Stories have been told that he toted a young man to California and back with his lady friend and newborn child. Word on the street is he’s been seen in a few cheesy 70’s movies. Will I ever know the real story, no. Does that make me love him less, absolutely not.

Which is the same attitude I have towards the E.L.U. I place myself in the shoes of whomever needed this damn camper, who was going through some heavy shit and was more than likely sleeping on a cot in a gymnasium somewhere. Flood, hurricane, tornado, whatever displaced the people that needed this are so much larger than what I’m facing right now. I can imagine the fear going through the natural disaster, the aftermath of seeing the destruction, then the attempt at rebuilding a new life. The need for a healing space was absolutely crutial, and I feel like this particular FEMA camper did it’s damn job.

Traces of small nail holes plague every single flat surface, which leads me to believe there were framed family pictures everywhere. The floors themselves, although old, have been treated like they’re made of gold, with actual floor wax and a shine better than we can put on most cars. Even the toilet looks like people scrubbed it with toothbrushes. This was not taken advantage of, this E.L.U wasn’t just a Unit to someone, it was home. A safe place to heal from the storm.

Although I complained about the air conditioning going out, it was temporary. All of my memories that I packed along in a Merrill shoe box was in tact. My dog was happily sleeping on the couch, a little hot, but happy. My health is paramount, I have taken up running again, all of my faculties are in order. Beer is cold in the fridge. When I think my life is rough, I take a moment to look outside and read those words “Emergency Living Unit” and life isn’t that bad all of a sudden. It could be different, we could still be living in the van (not in a bad way, I mean, the van had all the facilities that the E.L.U does), but something good things happen and you can’t explain why.

We accidentally found the E.L.U, due to my need for a beer on a hot day. Great, right? Upon stopping in a roadside tavern and being nice to the right people, opportunities started opening up. The E.L.U was right next door, needed a new family to take it over for a low, low price. Although we weren’t in an “emergency”, we sort of needed a “living unit”. At this very moment, I’ve had more productive typing time on my old machine in the E.L.U than I have at my real desk back in South Carolina. Something about peering out the window at the Black Mountains give me motivation. The cold beer in the fridge I can access without leaving my chair is pretty handy too.

As of right now, after digging into the E.L.U, I’ve found that we’ve been living in a toxic pit. The same era of emergency was the same era of urgency. They produced a shit ton of toxic domiciles, which were stickered as “dangerous for habitation.” After peeling a sticker off, these campers were moved to less conspicuous locations and sold as-is. This is our case right now, an investment in a toxic camper. Oddly enough, since we’ve been here, it’s been a roller coaster of issues. Something inside reminded me I knew something about these trailers, my nosebleed made me dig deeper.

I know I posted the fiction piece, and perhaps that was a bit forward on my part. The donation link wasn’t supposed to be a “cyber-beg” and for anyone that took it that way, I’m incredibly sorry if that’s how it came across. I don’t look for handouts, and love being able to provide entertainment in prose form. I am still going to be doing restricted content posts, but again, it’s not begging, it’s business.

Enough with the jabber, how about another rousing fun edition of Where’s Nikki? Since it’s so hot, I’m going to feature something really cool.

In AA, they used to always say “Keep the plug in the jug”, was that referring to fire plugs?
  1. Let’s talk about a little town, that was a whole lot of nothing for a really long time. Unlike many towns that we’ve covered that got excited when the train came to town, they could have cared less. People didn’t flood the town square and built stations. The train came, and a few years later, that’s when the town folks came in, around 1902-1910 to be more precise.
  2. Being an area ridden with extreme climates, pioneers weren’t really in love with the territory. In fact, the settlers that decided it was the place for them couldn’t have chosen something more polar opposite than they were used to. The majority of the settlers were Croatian, a few Serbians fell into the mix, but not many. These settlers, pioneers really, were less than educated, most males lacking more than a four year education and women with less. That didn’t slow the community of blue collared workers, though, they flourished.
  3. Tourism is slim to none in this area, lacking anything to really write home about. Vast terrain and wide open spaces offer nothing for the outdoors enthusiast and the nearest “big” city is at least an hour away. Located on a stretch of highway dotted with tiny towns, there are no neon lights to point you here…unless you’re attracted to oversize tacky roadside attractions. This town is home to the largest, ahem, statue of it’s kind (he might be related to my fire plug friend, I’m not sure). Cheesy selfie-fiends find themselves roadside snapping shots with this attraction. No fee is collected, aside from the taxing boredom of travelling through this town.

Comment below with your ideas as to where he is. After the location is properly selected, I’ll post the picture of me with the big landmark that made this town famous.

*Update, the mystery as been solved, the location is Kenaston, Saskatchewan. A lovely little nothing with an even lovelier snowman!

in the mean time, make sure you follow us on the Instagram (not really, it’s a crock of bologna, but the tan van wanted a site) LecroyMoDetail, it’s the site, check it out if you like photos of old tan vans and an ancient Beagle mutt.

Pearl Clad In A Turquoise World

“Pearls are always appropriate.”

Jackie Kennedy

I’ve placed my butt in Arizona, for now, with high hopes of bright horizons in the future. In the meantime, it’s been pretty hit or miss. Van troubles pepper my existence between occasional adventures. Believe it or not, the old tan van has clocked almost 6,700 miles since our initial departure from South Carolina. The odometer, however, is subject to suspicion, seeing as how the speedometer that feeds it information is hit and miss as well. Pretty decent considering it toted an almost 3,500 (estimated) U-Haul trailer all the way across I-10.

Tan Van, he’s over 40 years old, an October baby of the year 1977. He doesn’t fit in in any parking lot, oafish looking at time, but an unassuming, but friendly face. It’s a van, I know what you’re thinking, they don’t have feelings or characteristics.  I think he does, otherwise I think he would have given up a long time ago. I feel ridiculous compassion for the guy, worked almost to death a few times, but never giving up. Every morning, as I peer out the window at his smiling face, he looks like he’s up for adventure, trouble, something. He wasn’t meant to sit still.

I feel his pain, sitting still is a toxic trait to develop, and although I’ve been on the move, I haven’t really been in motion. I’ve felt my brain start to drip from my ear canal, in desire for intellectual challenges. I can look out the window for days on end, I rarely tire of the scenery change, but I do miss the challenge of using my mind. The customer that asks what the difference between a Soft Touch Holly and a Compacta. The customer that wonders why her generic drug is no longer $12. The Lowe’s customer that wants to know when mulch is going back on sale. Using my brain, I love it, I miss it.

Without a huge enthusiasm for doing automotive detailing the rest of my life, which doesn’t stimulate the side of my brain that I desire, I took to Indeed to find something intellectual to do. Something that I could plug and play my talents into and get at least SOME revenue coming in. (Travelling for weeks creates a bleeding wound that a tourniquet would laugh at). I needed a job, but I wanted something good.

“Social Media Director”. Every freaking other job. “WordPress Hot Shot”, “Barnstorming Sales Agent”. Jesus, no. Heck no. I grasped my pearls in one hand and my mouse in the other. Hoping that some sort of positive vibes from this strand would manifest itself in the internet. That, surprisingly, is not how the world works, or at least not the internet. I was about belly up, tired, and disparaged at the barrage of ridiculous job offers. I kid you not, a place in Fargo, ND found my resume and offered me a job as hand tool area representative. I’d drive around Fargo demonstrating hand tools.

I don’t think so.

I found, oddly, a position as an Assistant Fiction Writer. I don’t do fiction, at least not well. It’s like being at a debutante ball in Carhartts. The subject matter, at that, was ridiculous as well, a male protagonist trying to mass a security point which is occupied by a babe. The babe, of course, is to be wooed. The parameters of the story line went as such:

Dude flirts with girl.

Girl allows passage.

Dude passes.

Dude meets different security.

They fight.

End Scene.

That’s pretty much the scenario they give me to write an “interview” piece about. I slap my forehead and decide, what the hell. This was Wednesday. Thursday we travel, see cool things, adventure, but all the while I’m envisioning this scene. A dude, was he going to be a super hero? Was he a zero? Was he my dad? I didn’t know. Friday, more adventure, more travel, and finally it clicked. I get home and fire up the laptop and wear out my favorite keys, compiling, what I sincerely feel is a beautifully written piece that needs a beginning and and end.

I proofread, do so again, then reflect upon my assignment and notice it’s supposed to be first person. For fucks sake, how is it that I overlooked that damn detail? Something that simple? Four hours, four grueling hours I spent today amending the original text into something “first person.” Believe me, I was trying to formulate an email to try and justify my avoidance of first person, but I figured I didn’t have that sort of weight yet. I was uncomfortable, speaking in a male first person form about a babe. My boundaries were pushed.

Sort of like being in Arizona. Women here are absolutely clad in gorgeous Turquoise and silver. They have boots that are pointy and tall, made of the skins of dead something or others. They wear jeans when it’s 100 plus degrees, they listen to country music, line dance, and go to rodeos. When I stroll in with a cute dress with coordinating cardigan sweater, pearls and Birkenstocks, I don’t fit in. It shocks my esteem, of course, but I work through it. I feel uncomfortable because I’m not the same, however, maybe they feel uncomfortable because they’re all the same. I’m not sure, I haven’t gotten the courage to talk to them yet.

Are you genuinely interested in reading my attempt at this task? I’ll be putting it up on a private post, sort of a pay-per-view sort of set up. Donations are very accepted using the link below. (A few of you have donated recently, and I’ll make sure you have the password). Feel free to give as little or as much as you feel, remember that bleeding financial wound that travel creates? Tan van is lovely and all, but it also gets about 8 mph (downhill). Click here, to ensure more fun travel and photography.

That brings me to my “Where’s Nikki” this week. Fun, right?

DSCF2092

  1. My buddy here wasn’t wanted where he came from. Originally purchased for a little over $10,000, he was supposed to tower over a family friendly tourist attraction, but the city didn’t like him. They kicked him out of the city due claiming that dinosaurs didn’t fit in with their wild west motif.
  2. This smiling giant stands as tall about as tall as 20 beer cans and as long as about three classic Volkswagen Beetles. Using his long neck, he looks over an overgrown mini golf course and and a haggard yellow Ranchero with dry rotted tires.  In his new location, he’s no longer causing the ridiculous controversy he made in his previous home. He might as well be wearing pearls to a rodeo (see what I did there).
  3. In order to make his voyage to his new home, he had to be disassembled in order to fit on a flatbed. This was a genuine concern for the owner of the family friendly tourist attraction. She had fears that the children that had visited with the dino in the short stint he had there would see him being taken apart and become traumatized because of it. This plea was made in an effort to keep the dino, but was shrugged off. He was dissected in the cloak of darkness, no children were harmed. This wasn’t his first time being disassembled, however. His origin was actually over sea in Eastern Europe, where he started his life towering over a shopping mall.

Sometimes I feel like this poor dude, never really fitting in. Not mentioned above is the fact that he’s changed colors a few times. He was once brown with a white belly, but the realistic color scheme was feared to frighten children. He had to change his appearance to fit in, and when that didn’t work, he got moved. I sincerely hope his new resting place is one of permanence, and people appreciate him for all he’s gone through. Guess where he is, bonus points if you can find out one of this names (I know of two).

Yosemite

My soles have worn my feet about,

To the bone and further throughout.

The rubber on my tires is going bald,

But yet the mountains have still called.

Funds that find their way to my bank,

Are primarily for others to thank.

My roaming nature is getting me old,

But that’s part of aging I’m told.

The others in the world don’t seem to be,

Anything even closely resembling me.

I feel like an obscure rocky formation,

Seen in only very remote lonely locations.

Depression doesn’t shine like a beacon,

It dimly radiates and alters your thinkin’,

For now I’ll keep moving until I become,

Somebody worth more than none.

Needles and Pinstriped

I am in Needles, California.

I feel like I am the only one,

That sees this place of sand,

Reflecting exactly who I am.

Lost.

The interstate doesn’t change,

As it crosses over mountain range,

The truckers remind me to take,

A good look at the sky that’s fake.

Blue.

Nobody cares about this town anymore,

Not even those rich not those poor,

This town is gross, sand tone and sad,

And I miss trees and green quite bad.

Frown.

California isn’t my place to want to be,

I don’t feel like I can smile or be free.

Broken down on the road and heart,

Just trying to find a fresh new start.

Eager.