Saturday, December 17, 2016

Meet Alice !

This is my friend Alice. She will be 40 years young just about the time Joe and I follow her down the rabbit hole; and now you also know why she is named Alice. We were conceited enough to think we could select her name ourselves when we first brought her home, calling her Sugar Pie after Sugar Pie DeSanto, the reigning Queen of West Coast R&B and Soul.
 Why would we do that, you ask? Because we bought Alice from Ms. DeSanto’s manager Jim and his lovely wife Lo, who purchased it to use as a tour vehicle. They hadn’t used it much in the last five years, so decided it was time to pass the coach on to someone else. We were not only lucky enough to be adopted by Alice, but gained some wonderful new friends as well. We talked music and the old days of the jazz and blues scene for hours; what a great time! Jim included a copy of Ms. DeSanto’s “Sugar Is Salty” CD in the deal, which we will frame for the wall of the coach. We are firm believers in keeping something of the history of a vehicle with it going forward into the future. We are only the third owners of Alice, with Jim and Lo before us, and a northern California GMC dealership owner (also named Jim) before them. It seems that a lot of these coaches were originally purchased by dealers for their family, which says a lot about the quality of the vehicle.

Gosh, where are my manners? I introduced you to Alice but didn’t give you her stats! She is a svelte 26-8-9 (27.9-2.4-2.7 for our European & Canadian friends). That is, she is 26’ long by 8’ wide at the waist by 9’ high at the top of the rooftop air conditioner. She is a stunning honey blonde, which is to say a warm beige color of Imron (aircraft) paint. Her shell is a two piece (the top half fits over the bottom half and seals at the waist) aluminum and fiberglass for lightweight strength without the leaky roof issues so common with modern coaches. Her interior is also beige, with mahogany stained cabinets (which I am warming up with a thin top coat of red oak stain to bring it more in line with the cherry wall panels we installed in the living room area). Since Joe and I are not really beige people, we will liven her up inside with some wonderful retro orange and lime green accents as an homage to the the era she was designed and produced (1977). Alice rocks a front wheel drive system that allows her to sit low for easy entry and puts on her high heel sneakers (an air-bag suspension) to gain height for travel. She is powered by a 455 Oldsmobile engine and a turbo-hydramatic 425 tranny.
Think of her as a big-boned Toronado with an attitude and a lot of class! The best part is, she averages between 10 and 13 mpg, which is kinda awesome for a motorhome. We are still putting some finishing touches on her, but Alice is lookin’ pretty slick!

Now, about the Rabbit Hole. Those of you who know us know that Joe and I have a tendency to run away and join the circus every now and again. To translate, we tend to do things that everyone tells us won’t work out well for us, but somehow they do. For instance, very few people thought we could make a living photographing short track stock car racing, which we did for 12-plus years. We just prefer to make a living doing something we enjoy and which fulfills us, which usually isn’t the typical 9-5 sort of gig (are you humming that song too? I just can’t help it!). So, we are going to go down the rabbit hole with Alice. And like her famous namesake, we think we know what is down there, but we really have no idea. And so we will begin the grand adventure full of hope and enthusiasm, and secure in the knowledge that life is really all about the experience and not the end result anyhow. Here’s to the experience, for all of us!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How This Adventure Really Began

As the day of our departure on this amazing journey creeps ever closer, I find my head filled with far too many random thoughts to organize efficiently. Part of that dubious blob of gray matter is cluttered with facts and figures; how much cookware will we need, what color towels for the bathroom, what is the best route to take heading south? A smaller portion is jammed full of disconnected answers, which will undoubtedly change another dozen or three times before being acted upon, because that’s kind of how I roll these days. More and more, however, I find my thoughts roaming freely back to my childhood, where this incredible adventure really began.

There was absolutely no doubt in my mind as a child growing up in the (then) small seaside resort town of Santa Cruz, CA, that I was going to be a cowboy. Not just any cowboy, but one of the hard ridin’ fast shootin’ cowboys out of the western novels I devoured from cover to cover one after another. Even my teachers asked if I liked anything other than “horse books”! O.K, so plan A didn’t really work out, but the hours I spent engrossed in Zane Grey’s world awakened a love of the American southwest in my young imagination that never waned. When my Mother subscribed to Arizona Highways Magazine soon after, my fate was sealed. There was magic in those images; a magic that could be shared with others, and I wanted to be able to make others feel the way those artists made me feel!  And so, from the time I was eight years old and got my first instamatic camera for Christmas I knew I would be a photographer. And when we went to Arizona the following summer, accompanied by my future husband Joe and his family, I knew where I would center my photographic world. I also knew I would try to avoid the desert in summer...especially during record breaking heat spells like we experienced that year!  I’m talking triple-digit, melting all the way down to your flip-flops HEAT! With no air conditioning. First desert travelling lesson learned: adapt your schedule to the seasons. Check.

So for the next few years I studied the legendary photographers I so admired. The Muenches, Barry Goldwater, Chuck & Esther Abbott, Jerry Jacka, and so many more. They were names heard often in my house. Another name heard often in my childhood home was that of my uncle, professional photographer and writer F.A. (Fran) Barnes. Uncle Fran was a technical writer in the aerospace industry during its formative years in California. He became disillusioned with that and retired at an early age. He put his photographic hobby and professional writing experience to use in the career of his dreams, as a travel writer. He did this, along with my Aunt Terby and their young daughter, from a 32’ trailer towed by a beefy truck carrying a small boat, dirt bikes, bicycles and a dune buggy. This incredible vehicular gateway to adventure was a cover story for Trailer Life Magazine in the late 60’s. He went on to become Utah Associate Editor for Desert Magazine, as well as a contributing editor for the old Off Road magazine( now Four Wheeler, I believe…). They enjoyed this nomadic lifestyle for many years, with winters in Mexico or the southwestern desert and summers in the northern Rockies. This seasonal swing brought them many times though the Canyonlands section of the Colorado Plateau, and they fell in love with the red rocks and golden fall colors around Moab, UT, where they eventually settled. Fran continued writing and photographing for books and articles from their home base and Terby went to work for the National Park Service. When Fran’s book publisher eventually retired, he took the plunge and began self-publishing long before it was a readily available online service, becoming publisher and editor of his own company, Canyon Country Publications. Terby worked right along with him, typing, proofreading and handling distribution for their successful and growing business until Fran's death in 2003, whereupon she became sole publisher and editor until her passing five years later.Together, they published over 60 books and maps, and innumerable articles and papers. A few years ago, the Museum of Moab dedicated the Fran and Terby Barnes Gallery, where they have a collection of over 50,000 of Fran’s images donated by the family in 2008. I know, it seems like I’ve really wandered off subject here, but my point is that I have some really big shoes to fill, and an incredible example of exactly how to do it! Not just an example, but a helping hand, as I spent most of the summer of my 16th year working and travelling with my uncle and aunt, as well as receiving my first (and second) “real” camera and my b/w darkroom from them as well. This made it possible to grow as a photographer in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I was loosely planning to move there after graduation to work in the publishing company, but fell into a camera store job that summer, and went on to work at a photo lab for 17 years after that (where I had the privilege of getting to know the wonderful Esther Abbott, whose work I had admired for so many years!). I was learning so much from the wonderful people I met there, that somehow the move never happened.

 While part of me will always regret what might have been, I honestly wouldn’t trade it for what is. The universe has a way of gently (or sometimes not so gently) placing you where you are meant to be, so you can do what you are meant to do. Joe and I are meant to do just what we are planning; both of us have been preparing for it our whole lives, without really knowing it. He with his background in cinematography and music, me with my photography and journalism, and both of us with our gypsy dreams and love of travel, especially in the desert country. The desert was Joe’s escape from the insanity of working in Hollywood...a way to remind himself that a real world existed outside of the false facades of the movie industry. The thought of warm nights and starry summer skies takes me back to a point in my life, somewhere between childhood and the real world, where the path was still clear and simple and exciting. That is what this journey is all about; a way to recapture the excitement and mystery of that time in our lives when peace and fulfillment was as simple as a night sky ablaze with stars, and we want to take as many of you with us as possible. C’mon, let’s go!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Drive to Davenport and back!

Well tonight we took the Motorhome out for a drive to charge batteries and keep the seals sealed .

With the 3.70 Diff this Motorhome accelerates pretty good for a 10,000 LB Hotrod LOL.
Got a few bugs to work out as we have a Knocking sound coming from the front,  bottom of the coach .
really must get those new tires on this beast soon.

But with all of that , man this motorhome is smooth , It just glides over bumps and runs like a champ at 55 MPH.

Thinking we should replace the Windshield wiper motors from the Hydraulic to electric.
Also thinking it would be a great idea to take a hard look at all of the steering components now.

Got to tell you folks these motorhomes are never done.
It's more like a continuing construction project that never ends.
I am pretty sure we will be still fixing things as we are on our journey.

Will be posting more all the time as we get closer to our launch date.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Getting Closer to the Road now!

At the start of the video I say "I sure love this old motorhome".
Well, guess what? I really do , because it represents freedom for my and my Wife's souls!  It also represents something that is not really cared about much now days;  it is well built and almost 40 years old. Consider this: it's an RV that is older than most of you, and yet it is still on the road and still grabbing as much attention as when it was brand new! Fortunately for us and fellow GMC enthusiasts, some people really did care about quality back in the 70's.

Once Lynn and I are out there on the wild, wide open gypsy roads we will be able to share so much with you all. Yes, this old motorhome named "Alice " ('cause we're following her "down the rabbit hole") will take us to many places that have been forgotten and lost in this bland world of grey and black we now live in.

My hope is that through our travels, and sharing our ideas, and talking with people who do not live in a grey world we will open some doors to all who watch our videos. Perhaps this is just the start of a new way to live and love, and perhaps freedom is really out there if you can shut the modern world off.
Or perhaps it's all about taking the modern world and shaping it in a way that we all want?

Never-the-less, Alice and Lynn and Joe, along with with Amy , Rosie and Milton, will be heading out into the wide wide world very soon and perhaps we shall see some of you out there...

Be blessed, and keep on Rocking in the getting a little free-er free world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hi everyone
Why would we leave our Home in Santa Cruz California and want to live in a Motorhome and on the road?

Well, here are a few of the reasons.

Santa Cruz is not the place it was when I was young.  In fact, it seems like a place I would never want to live. It has lost its soul to the people who came here from other places.

I have seen so called political leaders say "keep Santa Cruz Weird".
It is not weird now; it's like a ghost that is lost on its way to heaven.
Most of the people in Santa Cruz who say they have been here for a long time don't even know that a Jet crashed here in the fifties;
they don't even know that the Dog Pound was on the mountain where the Jet crashed.

You see, Santa Cruz is now run by people who don't care about Her history; all they care about is running a rather leftist city with zero tolerance for people who are not part of the false left.
It seems to me that those who came here brought  their attitudes with them and did not care one bit about the culture of Old Santa Cruz.

But it's not just that stuff; we also feel that sitting in one place waiting for life to come to you is a tad on the silly side.
We want to see America and share America with all the people who watch our Videos on Youtube.
LNJ Photo Nomads YouTube !

The Reason We bought a GMC Motorhome to do this with is the GMC seems to bring more happy faces than a standard Motorhome.

You see, they do make you smile :)

The GMC Motorhome is a very cool idea from General Motors.
But it's age can make it somewhat more delicate to operate.
That being said, I feel the Old Tech has some advantages to the Modern Motorhomes.

For one, it will not rot away like many of the modern RV's.
Rubber Roofs and Laminated walls were never a good idea.

The Drivetrain can be a bit over taxed imho.
a 455 with a THM 425 Transaxle and a twelve thousand pound coach seems a bit of a stretch to me.
However, Manny of Manny's Transmission Service has been able to make these transaxles much stronger than stock and that gives me some hope for the lifespan of these transmissions.

The Engine is carbureted and that does not bother me in the least, as I have used carburetors long before injection became the norm.
The Cooling System on these Motorhomes is a tad on the weak side.
My plan is to update the entire cooling system.

In closing, we can't wait to hit the road.
Our GMC will be our home, and our home will be coming to a State or National Park Near You!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Phoenix Will Take Flight January 20th 2017 !

The GMC Motorhome will be ready Jan 20th and Lynn and I will be heading out for a mini run . The First Month we will visit Ocotillo Wells Ca along with Anza Borrego Ca.

Days Until We Hit The Road!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fun with Heaters and Dash !

Our Furnace is Done , but we are waiting on a new switch. Once we have the new switch in we will post another video with the heater making heat :)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Our Furnace is getting close to being done.

Today was a good day as we got the heaters box ready along with the angle setup for the heater to fit into the area that the old one was in. We will have a video of all that went on this weekend tomorrow night.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Back in 2011 Lynn and I were at the end of our ropes with the crap that was going on at the time.
So we decided to get a truck and a trailer and hit the road with our hopes that we would find a better life living out on the range, so to speak.

I thought at the time it would be a great idea to convert the truck over to compressed natural gas and share with the world all that was great about CNG. Remember, gas was over  $4.00 a gallon back in 2011 here in the peoples republic of California.

However, things changed when we got a call from Lynn's Brother who said their Mother was in very bad shape.We stopped everything and stayed at our old house for another few days.
Lynn's Mother passed into the other side one week later, and that is where it all changed.
We had to deal with funerals and all that comes with the passing of one's parent.
Next thing you know, we are now living in Lynn's Mothers House and we are the proud owners of a house in Santa Cruz, California's east side.

So, once again we were back into the stick and brick world , I started to work as a used car sales person.Well, lets just say I sold cars faster than they could supply them, so in the end it really didn't work out. After that I went to work for an old buddy, and low and behold he closed the Shop one month later.
Then it was fun with driving for Henry Industries, who will be giving me a check as compensation for ripping off all of their drivers.

So a little while ago Lynn and I started to look at motorhomes and trailers once again,
because we are gypsies by nature , and the road is calling us once again.
You see, when we were Motorsports photographers we hit the road every weekend to do our job,
but we always had come back home afterward.

So, in closing; we got our motorhome and we've got our plans and we are outta here very soon;
once we get the damn heater dealt with . Oh, and the new fuel lines. Oh yeah, and the correct tires... wait, whose idea was this again?

More posts coming.

Five years Ago We Tried to Leave Santa Cruz
Joe with the help of Art Sotomayor Made our 1996 Ford F-350 and CNG Truck.
Gas was $4.00 a gallon back then.

We were within one hour of hitting the road and then we got the phone call.
Everything was on hold and soon we sold our truck and our Jayco Trailer.

Next it was used cars and working to pay the bills.
But after Four Years of Watching People Destroy their lives we decided to take to the road once more.

But No CNG this time!
We are heading out with a 1977 GMC Motorhome.
Hey it gets Pretty Good MPG for a motor-home.

And just look at it, Ain't it cool looking?
Be watching this site as updates will be starting to come in more and more often.

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