Where We Went This Year! (22,000 miles of driving!)

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Road Trip to San Francisco

The trip from San Diego to San Francisco couldn’t have gone much better. After the matinee on Sunday, we came home, having packed all our luggage, and loaded up the car. We got two big suitcases and some little things on the roof rack, two more in the back, plus some extra bags. We bought a seatbelt for the dog, a cooler for food & meds, hooked up the GPS on the dash and loaded plenty of music and podcasts on the iPod. We were now mobile.

An hour later, we were on the road with the goal of getting North of Los Angeles by the end of the evening, finding a Motel 6 somewhere & bunking down & then starting out the next day – which is exactly what happened.

We lucked out with traffic. Not much at all on Sunday – because it was the Labor Day holiday, people were still on vacation. Thanks to the digital age, we had a new route to take, Interstate 73 or something. Sweet little stretch of new California road which will, in ten years’ time, nonetheless be as choked with traffic as is every other ten-year-old (or more) road today.

Found a Motel 6 (one that had vacancies – took a little doing) in Goleta and crashed. The barest-boned of hotel rooms I’ve ever seen. Bed. Lamp. End Table. Bathroom. Phone. Certainly all we needed, though. And after a good nights’ sleep & a morning walk, we hit the road.

We took Highway 101 up to where it joins the US-1, the road which runs along the West Coast all the way from LA to Seattle. I’m sure it would be great to take it up to Seattle after San Francisco, but I don’t know that we’ll have time this trip. But because we had two & a half days to make the drive this time, it was worth taking the diversion. I’d never made the drive before and here’s the thing: it’s stupid, crazy gorgeous. My favorite thing was driving along some twisty little hairpin turn at the top of an enormous cliff overlooking the Pacific and seeing a mailbox & dirt driveway heading down the side of the cliff. People live there. In what are probably very old dwellings, worth millions nowadays, certainly, and sometimes they’re stunning mansions and sometimes they’re just lucky real estate deals from forever ago. In either case, it was fun to imagine a very different life with each passing mailbox.

Saw the Hearst Mansion in San Simeon, of “Citizen Kane” fame, known in that film as “Xanadu.” Didn’t walk around because it cost a lot, it’s a whole ticket-buying-toour-scheduling-non-dog-having-kind-of-thing, and we bought some lovely postcards in the gift shop.

So, some madly rich guy long ago built this big-ass house.
Bully for him.
We continued on.

Stopped in Morro Bay for a simple Mexican lunch. Very cool – one of a number of little communities that are just far enough away from anywhere that they’ve managed to avoid being bedroom communities and were settled long ago enough to avoid being over-built vacation spots, and so now they’re simple quiet places with a lot of retired folk that just happen to be along one of the most gorgeous stretches of American coastline.

Bully for them.
We continued on.

Big, thick kelp beds all along the coast. Football fields of kelp, floating in the surf, amidst random massive boulders and rock formations, still resisting the constant pounding of the surf.

Heavily wooded villages around Big Sur, complete with general stores and one room post-offices. And elsewhere, vast, hilly tracts of brown and gray patches testifying to the fires that burned all over here recently. But even these, by this point, just looked like hilly pastures, a little brown, but very full of life. One local even told us that not only are redwoods virtually fireproof (and the only remaining trees on some of these stretches), but redwood pinecones need the heat of a fire to finally open up – like they know there’s finally a need, so they set to work repopulating. Mother Nature, yet again amazing.

Stopped just South of Pebble Beach, and Butley had a good run around. Found a little cove (private beach? couldn’t tell – no signs or fencing – just a little isolated & near a fenced-in Victorian house) and let him off leash to run around. He’s going to miss the beach, that’s for sure. He may be only a serviceable swimmer, but he’s a full-on beach bum. By the way, he's already perfected his "Wake me when it's over..." attitude towards car travel.

We found ourselves making good time, so we just kept pushing on until we got to San Francisco at 10p, Monday night. Rolled in, unloaded, put the car in a garage for the night, ordered pizza at midnight, and conked out. A very successful trip, all the more so for having ended a day early and saving us the extra night at a hotel.

We’re staying in the Nob Hill Chateau, a corporate place. Perfectly comfortable and complete with the sounds of trolley cars passing every several minutes or so. It’s a little loud but fine and a regular reminder of where we are. The car, meanwhile, is living out in Berkeley, in front of Peter Foley’s parents’ house. We opted at the last minute to park it there instead of at my cousin Lisa’s because it’s a little easier to get to via the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Peter’s dad will look after it for us, and it’s free, And where we are now, a car would be more of a liability than an advantage.

So – with Rice-a-Roni in the cupboard (well, we had to, didn’t we?) and sourdough bread in the pantry, we are now fully ensconsed. More photos and sight seeing to come. In the meanwhile, hope you enjoyed this little account of our first – of oh, so many – roadtrip…

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