Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!

Behind the scenes of history adventuring IRL - In Real Life


Although history adventuring in my imagination is wonderful, because I can travel to anytime, be anyone, and go anywhere, every once in a while I'm privileged to accompany one of my PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) to go history adventuring IRL - which is an internet abbreviation for "In Real Life". But the real world has limitations for me that I try not to worry too much about, and although it's not a secret, I do try to keep my limitations "behind the scenes". I wobble.

I bought these nice walking poles a couple of years ago while I was out history adventuring in Prescott. As someone with a vestibular disability (I wobble) just the small undulations of the sidewalks there can be difficult for me, but these are the places that I love to go. I got these, and practiced with them, and although they're intended for "power hiking", they help me to just mosey along, which is what I really love to do.

I dislike carrying a cane, and a cane really doesn't work for me, as I would need to switch it back and forth from one side to the other. When I first tried the walking poles, they worked for me. If you haven't used them, you might be surprised at how much weight is held by the straps. That is, you don't need to hold on tightly to the handles, you just lean into the straps, that have to be adjusted just for you. It's surprisingly comfortable, and sturdy. I have good upper-body strength, and this takes a lot of strain away from my weak ankles.

OK, I don't want this to sound like an infomercial here! Let's see, in the photo you can see the pad where I leave my cell phone, with a wiener dog pattern, made by a good friend, and a patch that another friend gave me after I visited Shawmut, Arizona. And I always find little things to remind me of my trips, I'm a little kid that way. Sometimes it's just a rock that I put in the garden, and each time I look at that rock it reminds me of an adventure. They're small rocks, but they mean everything to me.

I won't be packing a lunch for tomorrow, so part of the adventure will be finding food and water out there somewhere in Arizona. My co-adventurer knows that I will need to get food and water during the day, so I'm not worried. I've been with people who won't stop, and I just won't adventure with them. Adventurers stop, look, and listen!

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How to behave like a wealthy person in Los Angeles, California


Every year for the past ten years I've gone and house-sat for a friend of mine who lives in a nice neighborhood in the hills near Los Angeles. And as a humble person from Glendale, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix) of course I wanted to be able to "blend in" with the rich and famous people around there. Of course I got it all wrong.

If you've spent time around rich and famous people, you know how it all works, but it just seems so backwards to me. I just got it into my head that these wealthy people walked around looking like the guy from Monopoly, with a tuxedo and a top hat. But that's so very wrong. People who have the big bucks don't have to dress to impress anyone. When you see them at the coffee shop they look a mess. It's as if you start to suspect that that person over there is rich and famous because their clothes are dirty and wrinkled, their hair isn't combed, and they look as if they haven't shaved for several days. Of course if they were planning on being filmed, they would be all dolled up, possibly with a hairdresser and stylist right nearby. When they're not, they're just casual. Real casual. Some of these rich and famous people just walk past you all of the time in Los Angeles, and you'd never recognize them. And you probably want to get away from them, as they often smell bad.

And since I've never had "money to burn" I tried to imagine what a dollar would feel like to someone who would be making a LOT of them, as if it were a penny. In my imagination rich people would be lighting their cigars with hundred dollar bills, and throwing great big handfuls of money out to the people passing by. Not true. And I think that's where the reputation of rich people being so cheap comes from, because they're just like you and me, wanting value for money, glad to get a discount, happy to accept things for free. How open-handed, or close-handed someone is just depends on their nature, how gracious they are. I've known a lot of people, and how they spend money is all about their heart, not their bank balance.

As I write this now, in Glendale, I'm reluctant to go to the store before I shave, and get cleaned up. No one here is going to mistake me for a celebrity if I look a mess, it would just make me self-conscious. And whether I give an extra dollar to a charity, or not, will depend on how I feel, not stacks of gold bars that I might have sitting in a vault somewhere.

Image at the top of this post: the Pacific Ocean off of Malibu, California.

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Living where things get stolen in Phoenix and Los Angeles


I've always lived where things have gotten stolen, and it looks like I always will. When I first moved to Phoenix, I lived in a "sketchy" neighborhood that hardly even seemed to be safe to walk around in, especially at night. It certainly wasn't a safe place to leave your car doors unlocked, or to just leave a bike leaning against a fence! And when I moved to another "sketchy" neighborhood in Tempe, I made a point to bring my bicycle into my apartment. I also didn't go out wandering around at night.

When I moved into some "sketchy" neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, I was also cautious. I have to admit that it jangled my nerves to always hear car alarms, or the wail of police sirens day and night. And I wanted out of those neighborhoods! But it turns out that there's really no getting away from worrying about your stuff getting stolen, as long as you have stuff.

When I moved into my safe little suburban neighborhood, where I still am, in Glendale, Arizona, I kept locking everything up. I put my car in the garage, locked, and closed the garage door. I installed security doors. It did seem kinda paranoid of me (I was still imagining that I felt earthquakes!) and then my neighbor's Lexus got stolen from his driveway. And over the years I've known a lot of wealthy people who live in pretty much the same nervous state that I was in way "back in the day" in California.

The solution, of course, is to own no stuff. I've never really met anyone like that, even the transient people I've known have had to worry about their shoes being stolen while they slept on the beach. And so I've been trying to remember when I owned no stuff - it was when I was about four. I remember that because when I was 5, my "Vrooom" motor was stolen off of my bike. My parents had bought me the bike, but the Vroom motor (it just made noise, and mounted on the handlebars) I had won in a coloring contest from the Post Cereal Company. And it hurt my feelings when I walked back over from T-Ball practice at the park, and it was gone. Luckily, my training wheels weren't stolen, so I could get home.

Now as I go into my golden years, I'd like to believe that, aside from a few hearts, and kisses, I haven't stolen anything. I grew up reading comic books, and I wanted to be the good guy. The man I wanted to grow up to be would the Lone Ranger, or Zorro. Now when I look in the mirror at my grey hair I see Don Quixote. But never a bad guy. Never, ever.

But it turns out that there are no bad guys, only little animals that feel that they need to take things in order to survive. And there's no getting away from having stuff stolen, because even on your big ranch in Montana, there will probably be raccoons!

Image at the top of this post: In my "sketchy" neighborhood in 1982, Tempe, Arizona.

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The history adventuring project, chapter two


I like history adventuring. There's really no point to it, which is exactly the point. I've never had a goal of writing a book, or turning it all into a major motion picture, or anything like that. This is my life. And I know that when I say that it puzzles many people, who become suspicious, but I really do mean that all I want to do is to go look at stuff, and imagine places in Phoenix and California "back in the day". I've been doing this for decades, and it's really all I want for the rest of my life. If you understand, you know what I mean, but if not, then it's logical to think that I'm doing it for other reasons, especially now that I'm sharing.

I'm in the second chapter of my history adventuring, which is sharing. It's still a very personal thing with me, as I wander off and try to imagine Malibu when there were Malibu Indians (which I can't help thinking as funny-sounding), or imagining flying over the Sonoran Desert (as a hawk) before the city of Phoenix was built. In the past I've tried to cover it up, come up with some plausible reason why I was so lost in thought, telling people that I was day-dreaming, or thinking what I'm going to have for lunch. But I'm history adventuring.

The second chapter began a little over ten years ago when an accident suddenly took away my abilities to get out there and explore as easily as I did before. But I still needed to go places in my mind, and with the help of the internet, I did. And then I started writing down my travels in my imagination, and to my surprise there were people, like you, who liked them and didn't think that I was crazy (well, not much!).

The second chapter of my history adventuring will include a lot more people like you. I need people who can drive, fly airplanes, know which way is east and west, that sort of thing. In theory, I guess I could do these things, but I'm just not very good at them, and I'd like to turn my attentions elsewhere. I call these people PhDs, which means Phoenix History Detectives. And they can be IRL (In Real Life) eating a hamburger with me at the Chuckbox, and they can be in cyberspace, maybe just following along with me on their computer, or their phone. Or all of the above!

History adventuring puts much-needed structure in my life. I've never been someone who can just "go through the motions", doing the same thing day after day - I need adventure! And I've really been enjoying sharing it with like-minded people. I've created a Facebook page, a Patreon page, and most recently an Instagram page. I have the domain name of historyadventuring.com , and it helps me to, as I say, "spread the love". But I've accidentally bumped up against spam, and promotions of products and services, so I'm aware that many people are suspicious. It seems like I'm selling something, but I'm really not.

If you're reading this, you're part of my second chapter. If you saw me stop my car and go walk up to touch a palm tree for the first time in Phoenix when I was 19, you were also part of the first. Thank you for walking with me.

Image at the top of this post: the YMCA, Water Users building at Federal Park in the 1920s, 2nd Avenue and Monroe, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking northwest.

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Behind the scenes of my upcoming trip from Phoenix to Los Angeles


Since I'm not really a "traveling man" - not in the way that most people do it, I rarely talk about how I like to travel. And that's because it really just puzzles most people, and they wonder if I'm kidding. And since it's Friday, just three days away from my big journey from Phoenix to Los Angeles, I thought that I'd try to explain to you about my preparations.

Of course, most people want to know the details of the trip, what freeways I'll take, or my flight number, what airline, all of those "left brained things" that I've never been good at. Yes, I have it written down, and I can refer to my notes if someone asks, but it really doesn't matter to me. On Monday I'll be going west, and when I return I'll be going east. And when I've said that, most people have just stared at me and wondered if I'm kidding. But the pilot knows the way, and I don't need to show him (or her) how to get there. And the nice shuttle driver knows where the airport is, where I live, and where I'll be staying. I have other interests. If the shuttle driver wants to tell me the mileage he (or she) gets on their vehicle, or how long their tires have lasted, I'll show interest, but I'm hoping that they won't. If they want me to look at a map when I'm looking out of the window at the mountains, I'll smile politely and say "no thank you".

The Ehrenberg Ferry Boar on the Colorado River in 1908, between Blythe and Quartzite.

My first preparation for the trip was to do some research on how people historically traveled between Phoenix and LA. And of course the answer is: they took the train. There were two main routes, the first one being from the south, through Tucson, and the second one being from the north, near Flagstaff. And of course before the trains, people rode stagecoaches, or walked. The biggest challenge was crossing the Colorado River. And so when I fly out on Monday I'll be sure to be looking out of the window of the plane especially as we cross the river, where the three main crossings were Yuma, Ehrenberg, and Parker. When cars became popular, they were ferried across the river until the automotive bridges were built, decades later.

I've talked to a lot of people who have traveled a lot, and their conversations seem to mostly revolve around waiting in line in airports (and complaining about it), and car rentals (where you can get a discount), and restaurants (and the type of food they like). To me, they may as well have stayed home as they could have spent that time just standing in line at their local airport, or wherever, and renting a car to drive to a restaurant. Most of these people proudly speak of how quickly they got from point A to point B, and that's just as interesting to me as standing in an elevator. I want to go look at stuff. I'll be packing two pairs of shoes.

If you liked this article, and would like to see more, please consider subscribing to history adventuring on Patreon. If you're already a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!

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History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students.