Salton Sea, Take 2, Bananas & Salvation Mountain

The first time I went to Salton Sea, I assumed it was some tiny little body of water, so figured it would be a cinch to find Bombay Beach. Sara and I got there and found a closed visitor’s center and a very smelly run down shack. This time, I made sure to actually research where it is.  This time was also my boyfriend’s first Dart and Map adventure, where it takes 8 hours to go on a 2 hour trip.

Brian and I went to Pappy and Harriets to meet up with some of his friends and to see Lucinda Williams, who was already on the stage playing by the time we got there.  Pappys is a great little restaurant and music joint in Pioneertown, which is about 1 1/2-2 hours from Los Angeles. Pioneertown was originally built as a set for Hollywood Western movies. Now, it has a motel, Pappys & Harriets and the old set buildings with weekend shoot-out reenactments.

We chatted Lucinda up a little bit after the show, which was very cool, and  since I had a few drinks by then, I babbled about how I had learned to play one of her songs on the guitar. Except, it probably sounded more like “ohhh! You inspired me to pick up the guitar and PLAY! bleeh awesome! woo supporting women woohoo” or whatever I said.  My happy drunk is very puppies and rainbows. And then I was probably asleep by midnight.BANANAS!

The discovery of the International Banana Museum trumped my excitement of finally knowing the location of Bombay Beach. Ever since I met a banana in San Francisco, I have developed a bit of an obsession for all things banana. (No, I do not have a million little banana trinkets.) Brian and I got up and out of our hotel room and drove to the banana nirvana. The website said it was open. I didn’t think to call anyway. So, of course, it was closed. Closed! : (

The owner did answer the phone when I called while in front of the place, but he was on his way out of town. Banana dreams. Foiled. (I can’t think of a good banana pun, so foiled will have to do.)

Next, we went to Bombay Beach. Its heyday was in the 1950s and 60s, with Hollywood celebrities flocking there.  The high salinity, followed by storms destroyed this playcation hotspot by the 70s. If you look up the Salton Sea, you always see a picture of a decaying van. So, when you get there and do not see it, there is disappointment. Fortunately, Brian knows a lot of people and ran into a guy he knew. That guy was with a girl that had been visiting since the 80s and directed me to the iconic van. Now it looks like this: IMG_2170IMG_2164

There were some dead fish and random objects along with the rubble of what once was.


Brian grabbed the camera and snapped this very awesome photo. IMG_2161



There are a bunch of trailers off of the beach where people still reside.


We went to a local place called Ski Inn for lunch before we darted off to Salvation Mountain, which is another iconic place you have to visit when you are in Southern California.

Salvation Mountain is the recently deceased Leonard Knight‘s way of sending his message to everyone that “God is Love.”  It is about 20 minutes East of Bombay Beach.

Surely you have seen a picture of this…

People donated paint to him so that he could create his brightly colored mountain, filled with art.  We walked around and checked out all of the cool art on and within the mountain. We were curious about Slab City as well, being that it is RIGHT THERE, but have read enough about it to maybe go when we are feeling more adventurous. Slab is an off-the-grid kind of place. Though it sounds like there are plenty of artists and very interesting types of people there, we were advised to skip it.IMG_2209

What’s up there?

We decided to go around the Salton Sea instead of back tracking.

fft fft ffft fft ffft


Love driving through new places! I don’t know why it fascinated me that it is so close to Mexico, as was made very clear by the Border Patrol stop we had to make on our way back up. Since we weren’t smuggling anyone or anything, we zipped past and watched the Sea on our right until we reached the 10 Freeway to Los Angeles.IMG_2225



Baseball Art, Lavender and Animals!


I read about a baseball exhibit and was very excited. Then saw it was at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles.  I automatically assumed it was going to be some hippie weird hemp rope odd something not very baseball-like exhibit.

THANK GOD! I was wrong!  Not one to pass up trying something new, I drove over to the museum to check it out. The museum entrance fee is already dirt cheap, but is even cheaper with a KCRW card. ($5!) Yay!

Up to the 3rd floor I ran. No. I am lying. I totally took the elevator. ZOOM to the 3rd floor. So, it’s dead silent up there. I am the only visitor. No weirdo museum people analyzing anything next to me! I could stare at things as long as I wanted and NO one was there to pressure me into moving on. It was a Thursday in the early afternoon. Good time to go, folks. Good time. A security guard appeared exactly when I realized I didn’t bring my regular camera with the timer.  I got this awesome picture.


The exhibit are all items owned by a collector named Gary Cypres. His sports memorabilia collection is one of the largest in the world. There were quilts, cigar boxes, drawings (from the 1800s, yo!), a roulette wheel table (sweet!), old bats (no, not your mother-in-law) and

In 1903, this bat was
presented to the
Boston Red Sox for
winning the first
World Series.

lots of other cool items.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       IMG_4567I really dug the art made of unraveled sock and shoelace threads. A man named Ray Materson was imprisoned (drug-related thing) and decided to get all artsy by making these little squares of baseball players. I am only putting up one here.

Look at the detail. Dang!

This exhibit runs through September 9, 2012.


New Oak Ranch is a lavender farm in Ojai, California. They also have walnuts, olives and tangerines. During the summer, their ranch is open to the public. Since I adore lavender, it made sense to take the hour drive for the experience. I fantasized about running through the lavender fields and rolling around with the wind blowing through my hair.  Maybe Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton John and the Muses rollerskate with me. . .

You are given clippers and a twisty tie and are set free into the fields to cut your own IMG_4603batch. You can cut some for cooking (Provence) or go for the aromatic lavender (Grosso!) IMG_4604There are bees all over. I am not a fan of being around stingy things so was a bit concerned. They have a sign up stating that the bees won’t bother you and I decided to just believe them and waltz through. One with the bees. . . one with the bees. .

Won’t even lie. The bees were so into their pollinating that I felt a bit bad cutting down their fine work, but did it anyway.  They did not bother me once. Err.. okay. One seemed to yell at me until I moved a little bit.

After gallivanting about in the fields, it was time to check out the products. One of the owners, Karen Evenden, was standing by to help me decide what to buy. Lavender everything. Lotion, spritzer, body wash, sea salts, jams, scones, honey.  Karen let me try the jams and honey. I grabbed as much as I could. I am really looking forward to making the scones. The lavender buds for cooking and tea are fantastic. Been throwing them in my vegetable saute´ and loving it!  Make sure to check out the above video. A really cool woman named Brooke explained everything about the ranch to me and Karen describes some of the products. Great people!

Again, the lavender fields are only open in the summertime, but their products are available through their website  all year ’round.

The Gentle Barn is an animal rescue sanctuary for farm animals. They rehabilitate animals. IMG_1334Poor things were abused, neglected or meant for butchering. A few people posted about it on Facebook so I looked into it and found out it is very near Los Angeles. Just a 25 minute drive. There are cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, donkeys, cats, dogs, turkeys, IMG_1344and llamas. And you can pet every one of them. Okay, not the llamas. So I just stared at the pretty eyelashes on one of them.  It is a $10 donation to get in and well worth it! The animals are adorable (duh) and very mild mannered.  Some of the animals were bred to be food and were genetically modified. Poor things. IMG_4631                                            There is a cow (their therapy cow) that has bow legs and arthritis. She can’t stand up for very long. She’s the one I pet the most.

When you feed the carrots to the horses, make sure to visit the ones a little further back.

Yay! Carrots!

One was making a lot of noise to make sure I stayed put and gave her attention.  Definitely pet the turkeys. Was pretty cute to have one look at me like I was the best thing ever for doing that!

Gentle Barn is definitely a family-oriented place. Great to teach your children to be kind to animals.

Ellen and Portia DeRossi are big fans of this place. It was even on Ellen’s show. I visited with the turkey named after Portia. So, I guess that means I sorta met a famous turkey. If you can’t get there, you can donate through their website. They would sure appreciate that!

I finally got to feed Ostriches and Emus in Solvang at Ostrich Land.

I seem to goIMG_4716 to Solvang an awful lot these days (sssh!) and have always wanted to visit this place but never did for some reason (wine.) It is $4 per bowl of food.  The birds are all behind fences and reach their heads over to eat.  They all had the best expressions on their IMG_1364faces and walked like Big Bird. Fine. Maybe they aren’t really “expressions” but, whatever.  Hit this place up before you make it to the wineries. That would be my advice. Very silly fun.

Don’t forget about us! We are past the ostriches. We like the food, too!


Thanks for reading!!  – Jenn

© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Mansions and Ghosts in San Jose!!

On a road trip to Big Sur. . .we ended up in San Jose.  It just so happened that every hotel anywhere near Big Sur was booked and, naturally, we had not planned ahead.  Luckily for us, one of the only hotels available happened to also be one of the very coolest. We completely scored and stayed at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion. Yea, we did that. We stayed in a mansion. Albeit, a converted to a hotel-mansion, but a MANSION! Yes, please!  Unfortunately, we arrived too late to dine, but did enjoy a glass of wine in the Coyote Creek Lounge, which was just a quick elevator ride the basement. bawhawhawhaw!! Actually, it wasn’t a creepy-ass place at all. I really liked it and am totally leading you on right now.

The next day, we wanted to be able to say we lounged at the pool of a mansion, so made the effort to relax (woa! that is SO an oxymoron!)  instead of rushing off, as we tend to do. For a little while, we were frou-frou heads in the fancypants hotel robes they provided. . . until hunger pains and ghosts called.

We had to check out the Winchester Mystery House™. The story of the house goes as such: Basically, a woman, Sarah Winchester (as in Winchester guns – pew! pew!!), lost her child and years later, her husband. She went to a spiritual advisor that told her to move West, buy a house and continue working on it 24/7 to appease spirits that allegedly took her family and would take her life as well.  There were hundreds of rooms at one point, crazy stairs and doors that lead to nowhere. Oh, and it is supposed to be haunted. Sounds like my kind of place! It would have been a lot of fun to check it out without the tour, but it wasn’t allowed, so we took the 1 hour tour, hoping to have a supernatural experience. The tour costs $30, which is a wee bit expensive (though I do understand there are costs to keep it open.) Our tour guide was super actor tour guide dude. He was VERY into his job. Sadly, we didn’t see any ghosts. (Figures!) But, ghosts didn’t come out to greet me at The Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colorado a few years ago, either. Soooo, maybe it’s just me. (Watch your backs, ghosts! I’m going to see one of you someday!)

This place is cool, historical (duh) and it is definitely worth checking out.

Do it!                                       – – –    Jenn

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Alleged History in San Francisco

Oh! A Video!!

A long time ago, I visited Fisherman’s Wharf and bought a poster of The Cliff House and always wanted to see it. It was on the list for this trip. I could not wait!! We zipped on over and found it… and it did not look a damned thing like my picture. The structure I was hoping to see managed to survive the San Francisco earthquake, but a fire burned it down a year after that. (Yes. I know this little thing called the internet could have cleared this all up for me, but sometimes not knowing things like that cause you to experience all new things!) I was definitely disappointed about that. Big Duh to me.

The part that was extremely NOT disappointing, however, was the view!

Holy wow!

Look! I’m Alfalfa!

It was sunny and every color was so vivid it felt unreal. Another bonus was the wind. Something about the wind just makes me really feel alive. We had a few more places to see before the day’s end, so we left the lovely Pacific and wandered into the city.

Sara and I live in Los Angeles, which likes to tear down anything even vaguely historical, so we are always quite excited to see things that are a part of history. We went to China Town, had lunch and then took a stroll to 728 Montgomery Street. This was the site of the first meeting of the Free Masons in California. The building that is there now is supposed to be from the 1850s, last I heard. Wow. Bet it’s a cool building.

Yep. Our luck! Under construction!

Next stop was 750 Kearny Street. It’s a Hilton Hotel now, but it once was the site of saloons and gambling places during the gold rush! Come on! That’s freaking amazing! It is so incredible to stand there and think about what it was like during that time; how different it was. (Or was it?)


Unfortunately, by the time we were ready to see the Jackson Square Historic District, we were a bit tired. There are buildings there that are the only surviving ones from the gold rush. We should have gotten out of the car and waltzed around, but we didn’t. I am not sure which are and which are not originals, but believe me, I will return and find them. (p.s. It is on Jackson Street and between Montgomery and Sansome.)

We stayed in San Francisco for a few days (with many stories for another time), but the event that has kept me laughing more than anything, was seeing a gorilla chase a banana down Lombard Street.

Banana, Jenn, Gorilla

We caught up with them half way down the street to meet them. They were very nice and it made my day!

Bananas to One and All!


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I thought I was in heaven, but found out it was Spring Training

I have always wanted to check out Spring Training, but assumed it would be extremely expensive. Why did I never even LOOK at the prices? Oh. Because I am a total dufus. I was so convinced I would be disappointed that I was afraid to even look! DUH! Ticket prices  depend on the ballpark/team, but the parks are small and there are no bad seats. The cheapest is $8… EIGHT DOLLARS! Double DUH to me! Nay, triple duh.

Due to a car accident (someone else caused), I had a free rental car from Enterprise for a week (unlimited mileage!!) and decided it was time to see some baseball in Arizona!  Sara and I arrived in, uhm, beautiful Glendale, Arizona with no hotel booked. (See? Still have not learned our lesson.)  We drove around the endless strip malls aimlessly for a bit, until we decided on Ramada Arrowhead Towne Center for the night.  When our stomachs started to growl, we met up with a friend of mine at The Lodge in Scottsdale, AZ. They had fried pickles. You heard me! FRIED FRICKEN PICKLES! The food was great and the view of the good looking baseball players sitting next to us was great, too.

The next afternoon, we were off to the Peoria Sports Complex for the Chicago White Sox @ San Diego Padres. I was in such an excited daze that I liken my behavior to a pinball machine. Thankfully, Sara was there to keep me from running into things.  The stadium is crazy small. We had seats behind HOMEPLATE for only $20!! Are you kidding me!?!?!?! Oh.. And check out our view!

Yea. That’s the White Sox and they were that close to us!  In front of us were a lot of scouts with their radar guns.

This ballfield was a bit on the quiet side. I am used to loud music to get the fans pumped and that wasn’t happening here. I still LOVED it, even though Sara and I were sort of reprimanded for leaning on the railings and standing on the wrong side of the walkway.


I even ate a hot dog!

That evening, we ate at Bobby – Q. I definitely recommend this place! It was delicious AND was NOT in a strip mall! We made two incredibly awesome new friends there that kept us laughing all night. There is a lounge in the room next to the restaurant. Not at all my type of music, but WOW was it crowded for a Tuesday night!

Ramada only had one night available, so we switched to Thunderbird Executive Inn. I highly recommend this place! Very nice! It is on a college campus, which is different. It was clean, quiet and close enough to the ballparks for us! We got free passes to use the very nearby YMCA for our morning workouts, too. Rock on, Sara, for this find!

The next day was Anaheim Angels @ Chicago White Sox at the Camelback Ranch. This felt much more like a regular game. There was music to get everyone excited for the game and it was noisier.. Oh, and the Sox won. : )

After the game, there was a Senior Stroll. As in Senior Citizens. So you can understand why this photo is so hilarious!

I hated leaving the ballpark, but…

alas.. there was one more game to attend that day…

Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields.

We high-tailed it to Talking Stick and grabbed our tickets. My friend works for the Rockies and was able to take us on a tour of the facility. We got a behind-the-scenes tour that rocked!

We trained hard where the ball players train hard.





And we learned hard lessons about

not following the rules!


The last day, I was DETERMINED to meet the White Sox. It seemed logical to me that they would warm up at the ballpark at which they were to play. I was wrong. Duh, again. We did find them at their own park, watched them do batting practice and patiently waited for them to pass so I could meet a few.

This was a very amazing experience. Watching baseball on tv or even at a big ballpark is absolutely awesome, but seeing them in small parks and having access to actually meeting them is priceless. I highly recommend this trip for everyone that loves baseball!!

aaaaaaaand PLAY BALL!!!!!!


© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved — Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

The Benefits of the Salton Sea

I had read about the Salton Sea many times in years past. The photos made it seem unreal and amazing.  I think National Geographic, or something similar, posted an article about it right before one of our road trips.  I was so stoked! Salty decaying stuff!!!

What I expected was this: 

What we got was this:It smelled like Death’s Urinal.  Oh, did I mention there was a glory hole in the back of that shack? Yea. I had to run out of there before I un-ate from the stench, but Sara ventured in further for photo opportunities.  Her stomach must be made of steel.

There were actually people fishing in the water.

I don’t know how I feel about that.


So, it turns out that the Salton Sea is way bigger than I realized.  Not only were we at the wrong place, but we got there on a day the Visitor’s Center was closed, so couldn’t get directions.

Not sure why this area even HAS a Visitor’s Center, actually.


I am definitely bummed that I blew this site, but, we laughed our asses off (though my ass, apparently, ran after me and jumped back on) and had a blast anyway. Awe, look at us.. turning dirty-bird-shit-death-smell-shack-with-no-salty-decay into lemonade!

p.s. It wasn’t all that bad:


Hey! Look what we found

on our way out!!!



I’m outta here         ****POOF******         just like that


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Adventures in Death Valley, California

Beautiful mountains.. if you can see past the dork in the foreground. On another note.. Look! I can balance myself on my right foot!!!

Sara and I went to Death Valley, California. I was always intrigued with it because of the name.  I imagined it would be 150 million degrees all of the time and there would be spas and hot springs as far as the eye can see. . . or I’d see a lot of skeletons.

We went in the winter, so the weather was great. We stayed in a motel that had a pool, but it was chilly and we decided to take pictures of us acting like dorks around the grounds instead.

Grr!!! I am MOOOVING things!

That’s when we saw the bar.  It had a pool table and we love to believe we will become pool sharks. It hasn’t happened yet, though. In fact, I am fairly certain that we have managed to become worse pool players every time we try. The bar was empty when we walked in, so we played pool and looked out of the window, hoping to see an amazing sunset.  Eventually, a few other people showed up, one of whom was celebrating his birthday. He bought us drinks. I definitely like people buying me a drink for their birthday.

The next day, we decided to go for a hike in Mosaic Canyon. There was a sign at the start of it warning hikers that Side-Winders are present.  There is something extra friggen creepy about a damned snake that is fast and, oh, also travels sideways when it comes after you to kill you. That really, really freaked me out. So, I made sure to freak Sara out as well. For a few minutes, I debated being a total wuss and canceling the hike, but didn’t and am SO glad we went!  It has a very cool zig-zag shape.

Sara is all in the Zig and the Zag

You walk through it and don’t realize you are in it. Luckily, we like to take dorky pictures and accidentally figured it out. Or maybe it’s really obvious.  I was busy forcing Sara to record me channeling Oprah.  In the end, there was not one snake sighting! Yipee!

Sara and I are very into getting hotels at the last minute. We scored a room at Stovepipe Wells Hotel in DV, but I don’t recommend winging it. There aren’t a lot of places to stay and there is no cell phone reception. That could have been a very disastrous and panicky evening had we found nowhere to sleep.  However, we have yet to pay attention to our own advice. There have been many subsequent trips we chose to “wing it” during which we found ourselves driving for hours to find a hotel. Ooops!

Woot! Woot!

Signing off… Jenn

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