Sorry this has been so long in coming. Google didn't want to let me in to Blogger.
On the 4th of July, Kyle’s
sister,Lydia, and her boyfriend, Harry, throw a big party at their home in El
Segundo, Ca. This year, with the RV, we
have decided to drive down and attend.
And then - - maybe - - the Grand Canyon.
So, Wednesday at 11 AM we loaded up the
kitties and set out. We have the latest
Monster Hunters International book on audio, and my how the miles sped by as
our heroes performed astounding feats of strength and glory, defeating the
minions of Hell and the Old Ones. The
I-5 freeway in Oregon rolls through lush greenery, down a tranquil valley, and
then up into the piney heights of the Siskiyou Mountains. It’s a beautiful, beautiful drive.
And then, we got to California. The landscape didn’t immediately turn sere
and brown, but it was tending that way.
The temperature continued to rise, and the AC in the rig was not up to
the task so we sweated as we cruised along.
We heard a funny pop, but nothing seemed amiss, so we never even
slowed. Next thing we knew, an SUV drove
up alongside us in the fast lane, and both the man and woman in it were making
frantic gestures. We pulled over. They carried on.
Our rig has four tires on the back axle. The inside tire on the driver’s side had
blown. We have an app on our phones to help us find
things, so slowly, carefully, we made our way to the nearest tire dealership in
Sutherlin, CA. The entire sidewall of
the tire had separated from the tread.
It came off the rim in two neat pieces.
The main body of the tire would have made a good planter if you’re into
that sort of thing. We bought a new
tire, (thank you Les Schwab Tires) and continued on. And on. And on.
We stopped for gas in Castela. We
stopped to eat outside Redding. We put in 735 miles that day before we pulled
into a rest stop for the night. And
still, it was hot. It was 97 F inside
the rig when we lay down naked on the bed.
It had cooled down to 75 when we gave up at 4:30. We got up, got dressed, ate some hard-boiled
eggs, and got back on the road.
South of Redding, the scenery
palls. There are miles and miles of flat
fields. At one time, this was the market
basket for Western America. But there
has been a drought. It’s flat, bare
brown fields s far as the eye can see, occasionally interrupted by groves of
almond trees and the occasional stockyard located fragrantly close to the
freeway. Along the west side of the
valley runs, - well, - I would call it a series of high ridges, but around here it
might be considered a mountain range.
Along the east side of the valley was a murky brown haze I guess the Sierras are hidden back there
under the air pollution somewhere.
11 AM we pulled in to Bakersfield for
gas. We filled up, paid, and the RV
refused to start. Here we are, taking up
a whole lane of pumps, and the battery is dead as a mackerel. It has taken 40 minutes for AAA to get to us,
it’s 104 degree outside, and it looks like the new tire will be joined by a new
But no one is shooting at us, and I’m
not pregnant, so things could sure be worse.
At least we are parked in the shade, and thank God for AAA! They will bring us a new battery. And we can have a leisurely lunch.
After a whirl of activity, at last,
time to pause and count my marbles. The
new battery was installed, though, since we were Oregon AAA instead of
California AAA, the battery cost us $185 instead of $105. (gnashing of teeth)
And we carried on along the Salinas
basin Looking at the map, I see that
there is so little topography that the roads all go in neat, straight lines.
It’s a tidy grid. Until the freeway gets
to Grapevine Hill. This must have been
a nightmare in the old days. It’s a
precipitate series of hills forming the south end of the basin, separating it
from Los Angeles. Even today, with
modern engineering and freeways, it’s a damn steep climb. I was impressed that they have put a six lane
freeway through here, and I was further impressed by the speedy flow of
Said speedy flow clogged right up as
soon as we got into the LA Basin. We had
been cruising along at 55-60 miles an hour.
And suddenly, we were creeping along at 15 to 20 miles an hour. It took us three hours to travel our final 60
LA traffic is a different sort of
beast. In Oregon, you use a turn signal
to indicate that you intend to change lanes.
Evidently, in LA, turn signals are an indication that you want the
people along side to speed up and cut you off.
And motorcycles do not use the regular traffic lanes. They zip BETWEEN the moving lanes of
cars. You will be proceeding sedately
along in your section of the traffic jam, nodding and smiling at the folks in
the cars next to you, and suddenly a motor bike will whizz down the 5 foot wide
aisle between cars and disappear into the distance. I think they call those daredevils, “organ
But we finally made it to Kyle’s
brother’s home and anchored the barge.
Kyle’s brother, Dennis, and his wife, Yolanda, could not be kinder or
more hospitable. This has been an oasis
of peace. Their oldest boy, Alexander,
has grown to be a handsome, charming, mighty young man. He was an adorable toddler twenty years ago
when we married. I feel time racing over
my skin like a rat in cleats.
Dennis had rented a car for us, so July
the 4th we drove across town to Kyle’s sister’s place and her annual
barbecue. Lydia and Harry have thrown
this bash for years. Harry invites
everyone he knows, even total strangers, and many of the people have no idea
who Lydia is. She had everything
beautifully organized and set up, with red table covers and red and blue
plates, white plastic forks and paper napkins, pots of white flowers on the
tables, snacks scattered around, washtubs full of beverages and ice, trash cans
and recycling bins and food – Lord the food just kept coming! People brought salads, fruit, deserts,
munchies (slices of water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and drizzled with maple
syrup!) Lydia and Harry provided hotdogs and hamburgers. One of Harry’s pals served as grillmaster.
Kids splashed in the pool. Guys looked
over and admired Harry’s collection of vintage cars. People ate and circulated and chatted, or
not. Even though we were outside, the
noise level was so intense that it was hard to hear someone across the table
from you. Of course, the fact that they
live about a mile from the LA airport may have made a difference, too. Every fifteen minutes or so, another jet took
People just kept coming. We left before dark, not wanting to chance
the freeway after the drunks, dazzled by fireworks and a day at the beach, got
out and started driving. Back to our little haven of peace at Dennis and
Yolanda’s house. I slept as if I had
been shot and stuffed.
On the fifth, we took dear Alexander
and went to spend time with Kyle’s mom.
She has been having trouble with her laptop, so the two tech savvy guys
got to work on it, and she and I sat and chatted. It’s really intriguing to me to see his
original territory. I’m so lucky he
moved up to Oregon!
But his mom has not been well lately,
and her energy began to flag, so we packed up her computer and carried it off
with us to continue the repairs. And
eventually, the guys were able to go on line with their computers and track
down a fix for her computer. They have
it set up for her now and we will deliver it today.
On Monday we drove out to Temecula and
visited Kyle’s Aunt and cousins for the day, spent the night in their driveway,
and got up at 5 to head off for Monterey.
LA freeway traffic is – I guess appalling is the word. I thought you took the freeway to make better
time. It’s a creeping parking lot! I’m really looking forward to getting out of
California Highway 1 between San Luis Obisbo, and Carmel, is stunningly beautiful and scary as any RV driver could wish. The narrow, twisty road is carved into the side of these steep, steep hillsides (with no guard rails on the precipitate cliff side, hundreds, maybe thousands of feet above the jagged rocks and the gnashing ocean.) We averaged 30 miles an hour for 8 hours. Some of the corners were so sharp that we had to hug the rocks to get around them.
And there is NO SHOULDER! If you think you want to take your bike on this road, you probably should drive it once to see if you seriously want the risk your very life. Will you even notice the scenery if your heart is pounding out of your chest with the climbs and the near misses?
I took a picture of this guard rail as we passed because it was such a rare sight.
Also, if, like me, you are nervous driving along the edge of a cliff, you should drive the road from south to north so you are between oncoming traffic and the cliff face, rather than facing oncoming traffic with the gaping void on your right hand.
Many of the cliff faces are covered with wire mesh to keep rocks from jumping off and hitting cars. Some of the mesh is re-enforced with steel cables. Some looks like fencing for a high security prison.
And yet, every corner brings you sights like this. The ocean is a thousand shades of blue, the fog slips in and out, and birds soar on the updrafts like angels dancing. It is breathtakingly beautiful. The driver, however, will never get to appreciate the view since there will always be another rented RV with an inexperienced driver coming around the next corner with two wheels over the line, crowding you into the wall on the hairpin curve. I'm so glad we did this. And so glad we don't have to do it again.
However, I will want to come back and spend a couple of days touring San Simeon, the Hearst castle. But the road isn't nearly as scary down at that end.
This is our first long trip, and we are learning a lot. The price of gas varies from $3.99 a gallon to $5.49 a gallon. Some credit cards limit you to $100 worth of gas. Less than 20 gallons? That will get us 200 miles, if we're lucky and don't run the AC.
And we have at least two different modes of travel: There's the take - your time, stop for photos, let's go back to that produce stand - set up early and head out late - sort of travel, and there is the - leave at oh dark hundred, put your foot down, drive till you drop and dry-camp at the side of the road - sort of travel. Guess which I prefer?
So today, we are heading back to Oregon where there is no sales tax and you don't have to pump your own gas. We will wave to SanFrancisco as we pass.