Monday, December 1, 2014

Break ups, Evil relatives, and Partying in Big Bear (The Boredom—Week 1, Part 2)

Thank you for reading about my continuing exploits on my quest.  I’m trying to fill my holiday season with actions that are productive and/or meaningful to me before I go back to working at the job I love.
Catch up with Dispatch 1 and Dispatch 2.

Wednesday—Day Five of The Boredom—started out with the major downer of making the phone call to break it off with a brief fling who blatantly got my hopes up and led me on.  She never responded with even a single written word, but it still had to be done.  I kept my side of the street clean and I wash my hands of it.

The next thing I did was make a donation to my favorite ministry and charity, the Voice of the Martyrs.  I specified for the donation be directed to the Iraqi Christians Relief Fund.  VOTM needs all the help they can get, with the devastation of ISIS’ genocidal war of expansion.

By late morning I heard back from my friend who’d made an ass out of us both in Lake Arrowhead.  He had the money he owed me from the night before but arrogantly played down his behavior.  I was not impressed, and am still disappointed to see this type of behavior in someone I so highly regard.

The Rail Side Cafe
I pushed all the drama out of my head with a relaxing lunch at the Rail Side Café in San Dimas, CA.  I’m in love with this new mom-and-pop eatery.  They balance the minimalist motif of a hip coffee shop with the nostalgia for the heyday of trains—ultimately the reason my hometown grew from a 19th century work camp.  I ate one of the best damn Paninis I’ve ever had while I read a few chapters from Empire State.

Overall, the day was remarkably productive.  I wrote a lot that day, got some important things done at home, and also significantly grew my social media following.  This is all good prep work to benefit me when I launch the American Liberty Library, my independent publishing house.

Day Six was Thanksgiving Day.  In the late morning I drove to my sister’s house on the other side of town and helped her prepare two turkeys and some pecan pies for Thanksgiving dessert.  I’d already busted a mission with my nephew to the crowded supermarket and helped my sister make pumpkin pies the night before.

Thanksgiving dinner went well overall.  It was remarkably pleasing to have the big family together for the holiday feast.  This included my parents, my oldest sister and her three kids, my aunt (mother’s sister), and another family member who prattled with endless tacky sarcasm the whole evening, as if she knew what she was talking about or anyone remotely took her seriously.  (You really don’t get to choose your relatives).

The dinner was mouth-watering.  We had two full-sized turkeys, breaded green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, and a number of other entrees. For dessert we had our choice of multiple pecan pies, pumpkin pies, and cheese cakes.  I washed everything down with pint-mugs of non-alcoholic beer (I’ll explain in Week Six why I don’t drink).  Days later, I still feel bloated from the feast suitable for Roman senators.  Whatever, it was worth it!

On Day 7, Friday, I spent a good chunk of time updating the look and feel of my blog.  Since it’s grown in quality, content, and audience, I wanted a look to it that’s more professional yet edgy than the cookie-cutter dark gray theme I previously used.  I also spent a few hours working on restoring manuscripts for some excellent books on liberty, especially freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Midshipman and his Russian rifle

Friday night I was actively trying to avoid the Black Friday rush, so I swung by my friend’s house—we’ll call him Midshipman.  We talked of business and pleasure while he calibrated his hunting gun—a 1938 Mosin Nagant, still bearing Red Army insignia—and we had way too much tobacco.

Day 8, Saturday, was a remarkably good day.  I headed over to the San Dimas Barber Shop located in downtown—the name of the city escapes me.  I’ve been getting my hair cut here for nearly a year and it’s a place I truly enjoy being at.  For me, the haircut is the main objective, but it’s only part of the whole experience.

I prefer to be a patron of a barber who’s personable and can carry a good conversation, not just small talk.  I also look for a good ambiance.  The barbers need to show both skill and a willingness to work with a blade, not just relying on clippers.  Finally, the barber shop needs some kind of gimmick that can’t be found in most other places.

Brent being a smart ass while I'm trying to take a photo.
The San Dimas shop is decked out on the inside with a vintage late 1950s-early 60s theme; red leather seats, black and white checkerboard tile floor, and the walls are adorned with 45 rpm records, pictures of time period celebrities, diners, movie posters, artifacts, etc.  Those who know me vouch for my love of everything rockabilly.  The barbers there—Steve, Jerry, and Brent—are all great guys, very personable, and easy to get to know.  I always have a blast trading friendly insults and updates on life with them.  Better yet, they’re all talented barbers.

However, what that really sells it for me is my main guy, Brent, offers an old-fashioned straight razor shave.  This includes treatment with hot and cold towels, warm face lathers, the super-close shave itself, astringent, and aftershave.  In Brent’s own words, “This is how gentlemen pamper themselves.”

Add to that the doo wop and surf rock always playing in the shop, and in the back corner is a vintage county fair-style popcorn machine.  That means every time I go to the barber shop, I get to kick back, hear the music I love most, and munch on tasty butter popcorn while I wait to get my hair cut.

After the barbershop, I headed home to throw some cold weather clothes and key supplies in my small duffel bag.  Midshipman and I were going camping for a night!  He picked me up in his mammoth white 1982 Ford F250 and we rumbled up to Big Bear Lake at 55 mph.

Upon reaching the lake on Route 330, we hooked a northbound left.  Our objective was Holcomb Valley, the next valley over from Big Bear.  We drove (and bounced) up a rough dirt road for 6 miles until we found our campsite.  The sunset was exquisite, but we needed to eat.

We had pizza at a decent sports bar and pizzeria and shared our big table with another party.  To our good fortune, we were sitting with a pair of bail bondsmen, and we spent dinner discussing the juicy details of various white collar criminals, gang members, and murderers running around Hemet on high bails.

After dinner we parked the truck and waded through the traffic in Big Bear Village—we completely forgot it was Saturday night in a resort town on a holiday weekend.  That just made things even better!

The HiFi Academy
Midshipman and I ended up at Whiskey Dave’s, a classy fusion between sports bar/grill and dive bar, with pool tables, a dance floor, and a dining area.  We were lucky to see a live performance by the Los Angeles-based HiFi Acedemy.  These guys played some of the best classic rock covers I’ve ever heard.  I’m talking about AC/DC, Guns ‘N Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, you name it!  The HiFi Academy played their asses off, and I rocked out to their sets for hours.

Not only were all the band members really cool and down-to-earth folks, the keyboardist Melissa was really cute and definitely stole my heart during the show.  What man with a brain wouldn’t appreciate a pretty woman who can rock like Angus Young in his heyday?

In between sets, I met and talked with at least 20 cool and interesting people with unique stories and backgrounds.  There were also a lot of marines there; I learned that Pendleton marines are the dickheads and 29 Palms marines are cool as hell.  (I think part of it is their sunburned co-existence in the Mojave Desert with the Army.)  I danced with a lot of beautiful ladies, shot pool with some genuinely kind and fun-loving guys and girls—one of them was a Catalonian from Barcelona, and we discussed the rumors of Barcelona’s independence from Madrid.
Hanging out with new friends

At 1 in the morning, Midshipman and I walked back through the beautifully lit, empty streets of the village.  Save for the occasional taxi, we were the only souls walking the streets.  We got to the truck and drove back to Holcomb Valley.  Before putting down our bedding and wrapping up in thermals, we took a moment to stop and stare in wonder at the night sky.

There were thousands of stars above the clearing in the pine trees.  I hadn’t seen Orion the Hunter, or the stars glittering inside his outline, shine so brightly in at least ten years.  The whole panoramic picture in my eyes reminded me of these verses:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4

As a thick cover of clouds quickly rolled in over us, we bedded down in the F250 and went to sleep.

* * *

Rail Side Cafe photo courtesy of the Rail Side Cafe.  All other photos are my own. Copyright lawyers buzz off.

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