Friday, October 11, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vincent Thomas Bridge. San Pedro to Terminal Island, Los Angeles.

September 3rd, 2013

Dare I blog it, but it’s like…, I hope the ‘big one’ don’t hit when…!
            …then again, given a massive tsunami tidal-wave or the likes, up on the Vincent Thomas Bridge could be one of the safest places around for miles – one never knows, I suppose.  
Regardless, the Vincent Thomas Bridge is a pretty cool ride!  The bridge spans from the San Pedro seafaring district of Los Angeles to Terminal Island, the port district of the city.

The bridge is named for a local San Pedro politician/state assemblyman who championed its construction and who has since deceased.  It opened in 1963, with its namesake Thomas paying the first toll collected by the bridge.  When I first moved to the L.A. area, I sort of got in the habit of calling the bridge the ‘Saint Vincent Thomas,’ to help be remember its name.  :)     
The Vincent Thomas was originally a toll bridge.  However, once the bridge was paid for, the toll was no longer collected and the toll booths were subsequently removed.  (Hear that, east coast turnpikes?)
Once a year, more or less, the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic to allow for pedestrians to traverse en masse.  Pedestrians are not allowed any other time, as far as I know.

The bridge was fitted with $1,000,000 worth of ornamental lighting sometime over the last decade or so.  I most enjoy traversing the bridge when it’s early night-time after dark.  That's typically when the bridge’s ornamental lights are lit and the lights of the city and port area are all aglow.


Vincent Thomas Bridge

Facts below taken from:
CA-47 Vincent Thomas Bridge

 --  Third largest suspension span bridge in California, after the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, respectively.

 --  First welded (not riveted) suspension bridge in the United States.

 -- Only suspension bridge in the world supported entirely on piles.

 -- Named after Assemblyman Vincent Thomas of San Pedro. In 1961, the California Legislature passed a special measure to name the structure after Thomas in honor of his persistence and faith in the bridge's future success.

 -- Designed by the Bridge Department of the California Division of Highways, now known as Caltrans, which owns and maintains the bridge.

 -- Encompasses 2.2 miles of Los Angeles County Route CA-47.
 -- Required 92,000 tons of Portland cement, 13,000 tons of lightweight concrete, 14,100 tons of steel and 1,270 tons of suspension cable to construct.

 -- When the Bridge opened in 1963, a 25-cent toll was collected in each direction. On grand opening day, Assemblyman Thomas paid the first toll. In 1983, the toll increased to 50 cents for westbound traffic and was free for eastbound traffic.  In 2000, the Bridge was considered “paid for” and the toll was repealed.

 -- Painting the bridge is a routine and continuous maintenance job, handled by Caltrans, which requires 1,500 gallons of zinc, 500 gallons of primer and 1,000 gallons of green paint to cover the span.

 -- In 1996, the Los Angeles City Council declared the Vincent Thomas Bridge as the City of Los Angeles’ official welcoming monument.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sagamore Hill and Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York.

Ok, I get it.  I live in the real world too.  I realize the majority of us are not always afforded the luxury of time and expense to take-off for a change of scenery to places like The Joshua Tree, or West Texas, or the Outer Banks – let alone South Dakota.  But for those in the New York City area, there is a pretty cool alternative that is not even as far as going to the Delaware Water Gap or even Orient Point.

A cool alternative destination for those in the NYC area is Sagamore Hill and Oyster Bay, Long Island.  It is not a far drive and the train exists as an option to get there as well.  Be it the short drive or the train, both will save you money – especially given the current high cost of gasoline.

Oyster Bay seems as a welcoming town/village/hamlet with plenty of quaint shops and eateries.  The town’s marina area as well as the Long Island Sound both make for relaxing scenery, interesting seascapes, and also allow for impressive sunsets.  Oyster Bay offers itself as an inviting place for exploring and enjoying life.

While in the Oyster Bay area, be sure to check out the home of the Teddy Bear’s namesake, Sagamore Hill – the home of President Theodore Roosevelt (T.R.).  Not to get into his political viewpoints and all, but I think Teddy Roosevelt is probably my favorite president, historically speaking.  T.R. was considered a radical of his day.  Modernly, it is sort of an alien thought to think that demanding inspections of meat products intended for human consumption was considered to be radical.  (Teddy Roosevelt was irate about the reported fact that more American troops died in the Spanish-American War from eating bad U.S. meat products than died in combat.)  Nor would we modernly think of the creation of the National Parks as a radical idea either.  But these thoughts were radical ones back in T.R.’s day.  He was made Vice-President in an effort to put him on a shelf – little did anyone expect McKinley to be assassinated which would then usher T.R. into the White House as President shortly thereafter.

Anyway, Sagamore Hill seems like it would be a pretty darn cool place to live, if anyone were to ask me.  And the short trip from the City to see it as well as Oyster Bay can make for a really enjoyable day/weekend as well as a fond memory too. 

AVT  (Aug. 2013)       

Sagamore Hill

Oyster Bay, Long Island - Walking and Driving Tour of Oyster Bay

Theodore Roosevelt

Assassination of William McKinley

Angeles Crest Highway.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and looking for an easy, nearby drive with lots of great scenery, take a ride on the Angeles Crest Highway.  It’s a winding road along the peaks of the Angeles National Forest with some steep drops off the side of the road, but it’s an otherwise easy road to drive – at least when there is no snow.

The road will take you to an altitude of approximately 8000 feet.  You will see Mount Wilson and its observatory.  You will also see the some of the region’s ski areas.  On the south side of the peaks you will see almost the entire Los Angeles Basin including Palos Verdes and Catalina in the distance.  On the north side of the peaks you will see the high desert disappearing into the horizon.  The redwoods are abundant in the area as is varied wildlife, should you be lucky enough to see any.

I typically start the journey at the base of the highway located at La Cañada Flintridge.  I always first stock-up with beverages, food, ice, and gas – because you wont be seeing a whole lot of civilization for the next couple of hours as you traverse the first thirty or forty miles.  Now that one of the highway’s bridges has been repaired, you can cruise all the way through to Wrightwood in the high desert.  The Joshua Trees and the Mormon rocks will let you know when you are there.  One can then traverse the rest of the peaks that surround the basin by going on through to the Big Bear area via the Rim of the World Highway  – but I would suggest maybe making that a two day trip if you wanted to continue on to Big Bear.  Anyway, from Wrightwood it’s essentially an easy freeway ride downhill from the high desert back to the San Bernardino area.   

Whatever you do, I would suggest bringing along a lunch so you can stop and eat at one of the many enjoyable picnic areas along the way.  The rules do state, however, that if one parks anywhere in the national forest, the vehicle is supposed to have a Forest Adventure decal/placard.  Forest Adventure Passes can be bought at most gas stations near the forest before you make your ascent up to the crest.  This rule/requirement may yet change – but for now it’s $30 for an annual pass and $5 for a day pass. 

If you have a vehicle with adequate ground clearance or you are a driver who is not easily discouraged, I would also suggest taking a detour down one of the dirt/gravel roads of the national forest that usually lead to remote camping areas.  Mind you, some of those roads can get kind of ‘hairy’ and pretty scary.  But if you do take one of those lesser forest roads, you will likely encounter more vast and beautiful scenery of which most of the typical Californians don’t even know exists.

Either way, enjoy the ride.  Take it easy.  And stay on your side of the road for the benefit of everyone including the other motorists, motorcycles, and bicyclists.

AVT  (Aug., 2013) 

Angeles Crest Highway

Recreation Passes & Permits

Monday, September 2, 2013

To’hajiilee, Zzyzx, and Zuzax Roads.

If one is fortunate enough to find themself in the American Southwest and sees a freeway exit for To’hajiilee, Zzyzx, or Zuzax Roads, I suggest you follow the exit and take in your surroundings.  More than just odd names, these three roads seem to lead to special places that could border on magical as well – go there yourself to see why. 

To’hajiilee and Zuzax are outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, while Zzyzx is in the California Mojave Desert between Barstow and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Should one decide to explore any of these roads and these places and then venture further into what may appear as desolate or uninhabited terrain, make sure you have plenty of gas, water, and food; just in case.  These are fantastic places to cleanse one’s soul.  However, the wilderness can be just as unforgiving to the unprepared who are not smart enough to respect the powers of nature.  But aside from the warning, these places offer great fun for exploring as well as escaping the realities of everyday life.  These locales also offer potential learning experiences to all.  Again, go there for yourself someday to find out why.  You likely be glad you made the drive.

AVT (Aug., 2013)

7000 Miles in Six Weeks.

Sept 1st, 2013

A couple of months ago I was again fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel across country round-trip.  From Southern California I traveled via Houston, Texas to New Jersey and then onto Boston, Mass. by way of NYC.  Upon returning, I again went through St. Louis, Missouri. 

While this trip may have had less drama than when I traveled 8200 miles in 3-1/2 weeks (see: 8200 Miles in 3-1/2 Weeks; ), it was every bit as enjoyable.

I will return to finish this blog in a few days.  I enter it now to hold its place in the line of my blog entries.


Enjoy Louisiana!

Another unique and interesting ride is the State of Louisiana.  It is full of interesting topography and intriguing individuals as well.  The elevated highways and bridges over lakes and through bayous are like nowhere else.  The radio for the ride is noteworthy and entertaining and nowhere else do I know where one can hear a non-stop cajun-zydeco.  New Orleans is a fun place to party, as everyone knows.  But I especially enjoy rolling through the bayous and seeing the countryside.   

When looking for interesting places to check-out, I would suggest a local winery or somewhere to try some boudin and cracklins. I would probably go to the place that said ‘if it’s not the best boudin you’ve ever had, the cracklin is free.’  Sounds like some mighty good boudin and a mighty good marketing of an attractive guarantee.

To experience the bayous can make for the experience of a lifetime, in my opinion.  However, if you happen to be in New Orleans or a neighboring town on Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras day, just be careful to not turn onto the wrong street and become part of the parade as I once did sometime ago.  But either way, in the end, everything just sort of adds to the experience of being in Cajun Country and Louisiana.  It’s fun.  Check it out! 

AVT  (Aug., 2013)


Friday, June 28, 2013

The Most Dangerous Drive in the USA.

June 28th, 2013

As a qualifier, all the roadways listed below would often otherwise be great rides for scenery and for the locations of the roadways as well.

The most dangerous drive in the United States is essentially any highway-type construction zone in the northeastern portion of the nation.  Typically these construction zones have narrowed lanes with reduced speed limits.  However, if one actually attempts to drive at the posted and reduced speed limit, they will likely be risking life and limb because many of the other motorists will often be zooming by at twice that speed.  As such, anyone who actually attempts to drive at the reduced speed limit through the typical northeastern highway/expressway/interstate/parkway construction zone is likely a sitting-duck for the many seemingly reckless drivers who will pass with disregard and abandon while less than inches to spare from a collision at the high speed of the one who cares not of the reduced speed limit.

Noteworthy for excessively dangerous construction zones and conditions with vehicles often driven at more than 35 - 50 miles per hour (mph) over any posted speed include the following roadways:

Foremost as the most consistently dangerous for highway-type construction zones is New York City’s Belt Parkway through Brooklyn and Queens, New York (NYC Boroughs).  I know, … a parkway of all places!  Driving at the posted speed requires nerves of steel and no fear of becoming prematurely grey with one’s hair.  Never is a highway patrol to be seen and even if a patrol car is seen they are driving even faster than the others and the patrols seem not to care of those others driving with reckless abandon (while inches away from concrete walls and innocent others trying  to do the speed limit).

Hey Belt Parkway law enforcement officials: 
Will I be given a citation for speeding if I am doing 50+ mph in a 35 mph because I don’t wish to be run-over by the other cars and light trucks being driven in excess of 80 mph in the same 35 mph construction zone?

The second most dangerous construction zone – and second merely because this construction has not been as long standing as the Belt Parkway – is the New Jersey Turnpike.  The NJ Turnpike can actually be even more dangerous as on the Turnpike one has big-tractor-trailer trucks trying to pass at 80 mph in 45 mph construction zones with narrowed lanes.  (Tractor trailer type trucks are not allowed on parkways.)

Hey New Jersey Turnpike law enforcement officials: 
Will I be given a citation for speeding if I am doing 60+ mph in a 35 or 45 mph because I don’t wish to be run-over by the other cars and big-truck being driven in excess of 80 mph in the same 35 or 45 mph construction zone?

Other consistently dangerous construction zones for the same reasoning often especially include any highway type construction zones anywhere around the Tappan Zee Bridge area and Interstate 95 in New York. 

Overall sentiment:  Pathetic!  Horrifically dangerous roads these highway/expressways/interstates/parkways become when they are under construction regardless of reduced speed limits.  To add insult to injury, the roadway authorities still typically insist on collecting the exorbitant tolls even if the road is totally unsafe, extremely congested, or totally jammed because of the construction zones.  

One way to begin to fix these dangerous conditions on the roadways would be to repeal the Eleventh Amendment to the Federal Constitution – trust me on this one.  Search Eleventh Amendment on one of my other blogs if interested (

Adam Trotter

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dust Devils in West Texas

June 3rd, 2013

As I was driving thru West Texas, I again saw several more dust devils – as I spoke of in the immediately prior blog entry.  However, these dust devils were not nearly as large as those I had seen the previous day in New Mexico.  Nevertheless, I actually managed to get a photo of one of these at about a distance of a few miles or more away.  You can maybe make out the dust devil in the first of the photos posted above.  I always enjoy driving and exploring in Texas


Also posted at:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dust Devils on the Continental Divide

May 31st, 2013

While crossing the Continental Divide on the 10 Freeway/Interstate 10 in New Mexico earlier today, I saw several large dust devils. I saw them on both this side and that side of the Town of Truth or Consequences.  The dust devils could have been as high as hundreds of feet into the air and were sustained for a significant period of time.  It was a pretty cool experience.  


Also posted at:

Rolling the 4 x 4 to the East…, Again.

May 30th, 2013

I’m rolling the four-wheel drive to the east on another sea to sea jaunt.  I’m fortunate that I have the opportunity to do another Ultimate Roadtrip across America Sea to Sea (C2C) - or coast to coast, if you prefer.

Jersey and Mass. bound out of SoCal via central and southeastern Texas way. 


Blake Shelton - Boys 'Round Here feat. Pistol Annies & Friends (Official Music Video)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cruise to Catalina, California!

When you are looking to get away to some place interesting and fun, take the relaxing and interesting hour long cruise to Avalon (or Two Harbors) on Catalina Island (Santa Catalina Island is the official name, I believe).  When you are there in Avalon, be sure to hike up the hill to see the Wrigley Memorial (of the chewing gum family) and the Wrigley Gardens.  When I was there, we just walked.  But if you are traveling with those that cant walk a few miles, then rent an electric golf cart type of vehicle, take the trolley, or taxis are available too.  On the way to the memorial, stop in a one of the many restaurants and shops in Avalon. Make sure to check out the Island Nature Conservancy Visitors Center along the way up the hill.  If you have the time, there is reportedly pretty good surf on the west side of the island.

Catalina is an interesting place full of friendly and warm individuals.  It has an interesting history and a geological story to tell as well. It is well worth the trip.  Oh, yea, by the way, the ride on the Catalina Express is free if it’s your birthday.  Great fun.  A good day all around!  Check it out sometime!

AVT  (March, 2013)

Catalina Express

Check out the baby chicks with the eagle's nest cam:

For more info:

8200 Miles in 3-1/2 Weeks.

April 7th, 2013

Though this blog entry is a bit overdue, over the Christmas and New Year’s timeframe (December 2012 to January 2013), I managed to drive 8200 miles in over a little less than four weeks.  Basically, I went from Southern California to Southern New Jersey and then to Boston, Massachusetts via upstate New York as well.  It was great!  I loved every minute of it. 

Some notable items along the way (mind you I have to locate my missing notes for this sojourn and I may come back to make modifications/additions to what follows below):

Most impressive states for this trip:  Missouri and New Mexico.
New Mexico, because everyone I interacted with in New Mexico seemed to maintain the highest of forthright qualities about themselves.  Given that we were then in the wake of some horrific mass shootings which had recently taken place in various locations across the country, the general consensus of everyone with whom I interacted in New Mexico seemed to echo a sentiment of “personal accountability for one’s actions.”  In other words, don’t make excuses for the illegal actions of madmen in the society.  That is, if one does a horrific crime, the criminal needs to pay a horrific price for their actions regardless of whatever excuses the criminal can muster for his actions.  And this forthright sentiment did not strike me as if it was recently brought about merely by the actions of insane individuals elsewhere in the country.  No.  Even the indigent dude who borrowed my cell phone when I was at a Pep Boys Store seemed somewhat irked that I was reluctant to allow him to walk off with my cell phone when I let him use it to make a call – as if he never had any intention to wander away with the phone and he was offended that I would even be concerned to the contrary.  But nevertheless, all the people I met in NM were of a friendly, decent, and conscientious state of mind. 

Missouri, because the quality of life there seems to be better than most other places.  Cheapest prices on many a consumer good and beautiful scenery – especially through the Ozarks, and friendly folks as well. 

Oddest coincidence along the way:
Failure of a new brake system master cylinder heading east arriving into Albuquerque NM, and again the failure of a new brake system master cylinder heading west upon entering into Albuquerque.  No brake system problems before these issues, no issues in between, and none since.  It was if karma wanted me to stay in Albuquerque Maybe?  :)

Many fantastic riverscapes along the way:
Especially impressive were the Mississippi, Monongahela, Susquehanna, and the Delaware

Best night rides:
Eastbound: Mojave Desert Westbound: the mountainous stretch of the PA Turnpike between Lovey (I believe it was called) and California, Pennsylvania

Best radio stations and music overall, along the way (based on depth of play, new music, cool sounds, and overall variety):
New Mexico (Santa Fe and Albuquerque) in general probably always has about the best radio stations in the country.  However, Tulsa, OK was very impressive for quality of music and cool new sounds too and probably ranked as high as the New Mexico stations for this trip.  St. Louis, MO often is worthy of an honorable mention.  Wheeling, WV and Pittsburgh, PA also seemed to be vying for an honorable mention for good radio as well.  Philadelphia was probably the best overall on the Eastern Seaboard.  Upstate New York (Albany to Lake Placid) was also putting out some impressive sounds.    

Most fantastic event along the way:
Divine intervention in North Texas near the New Mexico (NM) border – maybe half way from the NM border to the giant cross outside Amarillo Very bizarre!!  Likely a separate blog will follow on this topic at some future point – when and if I ever come to terms with it all.  

It was if some evil big truck tried to kill me when I passed it.  As I was passing the big truck and before I realized what had happened/was happening, it was if I was encircled by some feeling of what I would liken in retrospect to be negative entropy (or at least decreasing entropy).  My vehicle was instantaneously propelled forward to prevent the big truck from putting an end to me and my vehicle.  I would describe it as maybe like negative (decreasing) entropy because during this brief moment in which my vehicle was seemingly and maybe miraculously moved instantaneously forward,  it felt as though there was no fear or cause for any alarm as everything was at peace.

I remember immediately having an odd feeling surround me and I asked myself “what was that?”  This odd feeling was split seconds before I had even realized that the big truck had nearly killed me – or very nearly at the very same time; which I then realized split seconds later of what should have been a collision, of course.  Even after realizing the closeness of my near-untimely demise, I was still more interested in the feeling of some unknown force that appeared to surround or engulf me moments before.  

And I surely would have met an untimely fate had it not been for the instantaneous change in distance/velocity/acceleration which took place beyond my control which in turn prevented the apparently evil semi-tractor trailer truck from colliding with my vehicle.  Again, it was if my vehicle was instantaneously moved forward by about five feet (or less even) and I remember feeling the instantaneous motion which had no logical explanation that I could imagine or perceive – even with my masters degree in mechanical engineering and thinking on the matter for many an hour and days later, mind you, I could still not adequately explain how the circumstances came to pass without a collision. 

(To be a tad bit more specific, in the fractions of a second as the truck left my peripheral vision as I was looking forward and before my eyes were able to pan past the rear view mirror on my windshield as I was immediately looking to the passenger side mirror  to gauge the location of the big truck I believed I was still passing and which then should have still been right next to me, more or less, in the rear view mirror I could see the big truck squarely behind my vehicle and so close I would have thought he was pushing me.  But there was absolutely no contact between the vehicles.  Given the geometries of the vehicles, he could not have been in such a position in such a fraction of a second without having made contact.  But again, there was absolutely no contact between the vehicles – the dust on my vehicle was pristine, I checked.  I know..., it seems like maybe the truck could have made minor contact or the leading edge of air in front of the big truck could have been pushing me, one could argue.  But given the angle of attack of the leading edge of air, if any were there which there was not, it would not very likely have instantaneously pushed my vehicle in a directly forward direction, it would have pushed somewhat to the side first - or so it would seem to me.  But there was absolutely no presence of any cross wind or tail wind either throughout the incident. I would have felt/sensed it. I am positive.)  (03/28/2014.  Also, had there been any leading edge of air to contend with from the face of that big truck, it should have wreaked havoc on stuff in the back of my vehicle - which I have previously experienced with step-vans having fun at my expense on highways in the past.)

Anyway, it was clear (clear to me, anyhow) that the collision which was miraculously avoided seemed to be the intent of the demonic driver of that big-truck vehicle, unless the driver was merely entirely reckless or stupid.  But the near collision struck me as just as likely to be of malicious intent and I then quickly sped away from the creepy truck instead of making a scene with it on the road – I didn’t want to give the seemingly purely-evil driver another chance at taking me out.  And for anyone who might be wondering, there was not another car in sight for at least a couple of miles in either direction, so there would have been no witnesses as to what had happened if a collision had taken place.   But I do remember waiting at a rest area/parking area (directly on the side of the freeway/highway) outside of Amarillo to see if the evil entity was going to show its face and have a ‘conversation’ – though surely I was hoping it would not show, and it did not show as it must have turned off onto another road or disappeared back to the depths from which it came.  

Looking back, I still can not understand how the big truck was able to locate itself so close to the rear of my vehicle in such split seconds of time after I passed it without contact.  Any contact would then have surely sent my vehicle spinning out of control down into the median between the roadways, given the rate of speed at which I was traveling at the time (about 75 mph).  The only physical thing to which I could point as to why there was no collision was the presence of that unknown force which moved me instantaneously forward.  Not long after all this had transpired, maybe a few minutes, I passed the giant cross outside of Amarillo - one of three (/five) I sometimes see when I road-trip America C2C

Again, more will follow on this road-trip filled with excitement and fun when I have more time to do so and after I find my notes on the roadtrip as well – hopefully, anyhow. 


PS.  The first two photos are upstate New York near Lake Placid.  The third photo is from the Pinelands National Reserve in Southern New Jersey