Trip 97, Los Angeles 2010 Pt 3

On the road again.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010


We have packed almost everything and are awaiting the awakening of our host to bid a last minute goodbye. While loading the van I heard something I had forgotten to mention earlier. Here we are in the big city of Los Angeles staying in a neighborhood with houses costing $400,000 to $1,000,000, and that’s after the real estate crash. Oh yes, you might be able to pick one up for 200K if you can live in 650 square feet and have a spare 100K to rebuild it. Anyway, back to what I heard. There is an early morning serenade of roosters crowing. One sounds fairly close, the other must be a block or two away. More later.


Evans and Tachou awakened and we were off on our way to the ocean. We had coffee at Swork and picked up some good donuts before we headed across the LA-Hollywood area to the Pacific Coast Highway hereafter referred to as the PCH. Nan Lou was doing the navigation using Gater which shutdown three times in a row. She got out the maps and navigated the old fashioned way. Either way was better than fighting with Gabriella who would have had us using every interstate and freeway in LA county. We took Colorado, Los Feliez, and Wilshire to the ocean with one stop to finish our coffee and eat a donut. Traffic was bumper to bumper, but we did move continuously in an orderly manner.


We did take a little detour as we neared the 405 up Sepulveda to the Getty Center. We were going to go earlier in the week but after talking to another couple and hearing how spread out everything was with many different levels we had decided against it. Did I mention this before? Anyway, we took that little detour, parked in the giant garage there, rode a tram up a big hill, and then had to climb a thousand stairs and walk very far to see the da Vinci exhibit which was rather disappointing. Anywhere else at the Getty was a long trek and we quickly took the tram to the garage, got in the LER and made our way back toward the PCH. I guess the architecture and setting were great, but we didn’t go there to look at a building and were glad we didn’t make a special trip all the way across LA to see it.   


I think it is Ocean Boulevard where we turned to parallel the Pacific and made the jog over to the PCH without the miscue we made a few days ago. Traffic was fairly heavy until we were past Malibu which I figure the result to all the movie people who live in Malibu cruising the PCH.


We reached the across-the-road-from-the-beach restaurant Neptune’s Net bought a tuna salad sandwich with potato salad and clam chowder and parked next to the beach to eat and watch the surfers do their stuff. Their stuff is a lot of waiting and a little board riding every now and then.


From there it was a short trip to the beach front campground we had seen the other day on our short trip up this way. I forget the name, but it is just a wee bit past Point Magu beach and squeezed between the PCH and the ocean. The water is close but inaccessible to us old folks due to the strip of eight inch to twelve inch rocks between the sandy beach and the water. Those rocks are interesting. They are all smooth and rounded, well ovaled is more accurate, from constant tumbling in the surf. Close to the surf you not only hear the roar of the water from the waves but the ckackety  clack of the rocks as they are tumbled back and forth by the waves. It is almost like a low rumble of thunder.


We read and rested until hunger hit and then NL scrounged up a few crackers, chips, and Nutella from our scanty larder. It was warm in the LER when we first arrived, but the sun has set and the cold ocean front chill has settled in for the night. I fear we might freeze.  hb 



Wednesday, June 2, 2010   


It was about eight when we decided to get up and walk across the beach to the shore. The tide was out and the rolling rock sound wasn’t there. That done we took a few photos of the campground and a colorful hand painted truck and trailer parked there. Then it was off to Oxnard in search of breakfast.


I had planned the route on the computer map but as usual couldn’t remember the streets, was in the wrong lane at the wrong time and naturally the city fathers had switched all the street signs to other streets. Finally after a fine unguided tour of the city we found a Denny’s and dined in style even getting coffee to go for our breakfast desert of fine LA donuts in the LER.


Then it was off on the futile search for a two lane road along the coast. In this area all the two laners of yore have been changed into freeways with a lot of traffic and mediocre scenery. There were a few stretches with ocean views tempered with a hazy air quality. It wasn’t until we were north of Santa Barbara that traffic thinned out even though the road remained a freeway or a freeway look alike.


Santa Barbara was a pretty city with a lot of waterfront parks and a really long area of shops and eateries with sidewalk tables on a rather pretty street. If we had been hungry and a wee bit more ambitious we could have found a parking lot and spent some time. But we weren’t, so it was off to Lompoc. Before we reached the road to Lompoc we had a small view of the ocean and caught a glimpse of a long line of white pelicans flying really low along the water’s edge. Oh yes, we were on a freeway going down the land side of it and there was no way to stop, turn around, park for a better view, or even take a photo. Have I mentioned that I hate multi lane limited access highways?


The road from the crappy freeway to Lompoc was a very nice two lane road winding through beautiful rolling hills with many different colored grasses, trees, and bushes. I call them hills, but they were a bit more than just plain old hills having deep ravines, sharp peaks, and rock faces looking out from beneath the green, yellow, and brown of the vegetation.


Lompoc seems to be a pretty nice place. It is clean, nicely laid out, and full of good things like Wally’s and Mickey’s. We ate at Mickey’s and will spend the night with Wally. The day turned out to be very nice with the temperature in the mid to high sixties and being away from the big water it probably won’t be as cool as last night.   hb   


Thursday, June 3, 2010


Wow, did we sleep a lot in Lompoc. Early to bed and late to rise is a good thing. We just made it to Mickey’s before they stopped breakfast. There were other places, but that was easy. I decided it was time for an oil change and after doing a google search found aaa rated places. They were too busy, I didn’t want to wait, their grease gun broke, and so forth.


We headed for Santa Maria and asked Gabriella how to go. Of course she said take the freeway and we quickly shut her up since the map showed a perfectly nice road over the hill. It was fairly steep and curvy and we had to stop for five minutes while the state police and a wrecker righted an upside down car which tried to take a curve too fast. The CHP, guy said the girl driving wasn’t hurt. The car was a mess.


Santa Maria was a nice place and the Dodge dealer was too busy to do a lube. We continued on avoiding the 101 and seeing several little agricultural communities and a lot of farms with manual harvesters. I guess we grow soy beans and corn in the Midwest for feeding cows while they grow fruit and veggies for feeding people here.


We drove through Oceano and stopped at Grover Beach, a little resort town, where we found new reading material (books) before hitting the definitely upscale town of Pismo Beach.


Our quest to avoid the 101 led us to Port San Luis at the end of whatever road we were on. There was a road into the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant which is not open to the public. There is a bay here with many boats moored, a dock with serious looking boat hoists, a restaurant, and five small camping areas for RVs only. We found a site in one that is actually alongside the road on one side and on the top of a small cliff on the other which overlooks a nice sandy beach. We signed up for $25, went and ate at the little restaurant, and sat and watched the sea birds and some seals frolicking in the water opposite our site. Tomorrow we might go down to the beach, or we might not. We might go eat breakfast in the little restaurant, or we might not. But we will definitely be on our way on our quest to avoid the dreaded 101.


The few miles we have been on the 101 have been very rough and pretty busy. Any of the lesser roads have been much smoother, almost empty, and with better views. It has been so long since we drove this part of the coast road that I do not remember any freeways or four lane roads. But then, maybe we just don’t remember that far back.  hb   



Friday, June 04, 2010


The sun really beat down on the van this morning raising the temperature to almost, not quite, uncomfortable.  Ham drove back to the same restaurant where we ate last night.  Their prices were outlandish, truly.  Ham thought his home fries were some of the best he had ever eaten, so that was worth something.  My cinnamon bun was a piddly poor comparison to even Paneras; and the so-called cream cheese was just sugar icing.  Bleah!

Expensive though.


The scenery is truly lovely with  the golden grasses on the hills accented with dark green patches of trees and the rolling farm fields.  Muy, muy bonito!


We stopped at a town called Moro Bay on, what else, an actual bay named Moro.  Clever, huh?  I tried to walk out on the pier but the yellow smoke really was strong, so I hightailed it back to the van.  Ham took his walk and found a friend way out at the end of the pier and they talked for quite a while.  He learned that the fishing industry has been decimated by Japanese and Russians who fish way out until there were no fish to be had.

The gentleman told Ham that all the fishing boats seen moored there, just sat and were seldom if ever taken out.  There is probably truth to that story, but it is sad.


We wandered through a gallery or two and mister Chatty got into another conversation with one of the gallery tenders? Watchers?  Owners?  I, who can’t hear zip, wandered around perusing restaurants.  The prices would make the Glass Chimney pale.  So, since neither of us were in the mood for fried, we moved on.


Soon, we came to signs informing us of an elephant seal viewing area.  When we got to the place it looked like a carnival with all of the cars and even a tour bus.  I got out and looked over the fence to see two giant (and I do mean giant) slugs.  The things looked dead, flopped on their backs and not twitching one single muscle.  Then I looked over about a quarter of a block where most of the people were leaning on the fence.  There were many, many giant slugs all stretched out on a beach.  I had to laugh out loud at the “Elephnt Seal” sighting.  Ham said the pier guy told him people used to be able to walk down among them but they quit that when too many got hurt.  Idiots are everywhere, not just in Yellowstone.  Anyway, with the wind  blowing so hard I couldn’t shut the door.  It was a BIG wind.  Hammie said the driving wasn’t bad however.


Evans had told Ham how nice a town called Cambria was.  It was crowded.  This should have given us a preview of what was to come.  On getting gas, he learned that he could get the oil changed in the LER.  Yeah!  So, we had lunch in a small bakery café…tuna salad sandwiches, actually, then walked around some taking in an antique mall and an art gallery.  It was time to pick up the van.  A very painless way to get some work done, I must say.


Soon we came to the curvy mountainous road that goes right along the coast with plunges hundreds of feet to the sea.  The campgrounds were few and far between and they were all full.  As we continued northward, the road traffic increased.  We were beginning to wonder what we would do.


After a few Ueys in the town of Big Sur, we went to the State Park and they were allowing people to park in Day Use lots to the tune of thirty five dollars.  So we are parked; it is private; and we have a nice tree over us; and we have seen several Stellar’s Jays.  Very pretty!  Tonto identified them right away.  Also, we saw one little rodent that we have seen all over and he became spooked and it was as if the grass had turned furry and started to run.  There were so many of these little critters all running in the same direction.


Food is rather nonexistent in the van right now.  Another night of crackers and Nutella, perhaps.  For all that wind earlier, there isn’t a leaf stirring right now.  That’s it.  nl 


OK, here I am being Mr. Bad. One reads and hears a lot about the beauty of Big Sur. Sure there are redwoods and a lot of other so-so trees. So there are a few expensive places to spend the night. But the only redwoods we’ve seen were a few in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park campground in one small area. I guess if we were hikers we might find more, but we aren’t hikers, sobeit. I guess there are trails all over the place for backpackers, but we aren’t them either. From what one can see traveling in our way up highway one, the drive here was far better. Maybe the coast of the Big Sur area is spectacular, but it might as well be on the moon.


More about the drive here on California 1. It is truly a magnificent drive. Many years when we did it we were awed, I am again awed. I remember back then being harassed by several sporty car types but it wasn’t like that this time. Have people mellowed out here? It is a wee bit hard to drive and really get a good view of it all. There are vista spots but today many of them were fogged in and the vista was an engulfing cloud. This fog, or should I call it a coastal cloud, was pretty neat the way it crept in from the Pacific and up the slopes and into the ravines. It did block the view of the water and the mountains now and then, but there were a lot more clear areas. The two or three forest service campgrounds might have been nice, but they were all full and I suspect that will be true for every place because this is a weekend. We did see a sign way, way back that said no roadside camping for the next 72 miles. I didn’t know there was ever any roadside camping except for the place way up by Redwoods National Park. Come to think of it, I miss the visits to a National Park every now and then.    hb   



Saturday, June 05, 2010


The parking lot was better than a lot of campgrounds we’ve been in. I’d say $35 was a little steep, but we were in Big Sur. Opting for a sure thing we went to the lodge for breakfast which was better than some and not as costly as some. The state park was pretty nice with some redwoods. They weren’t as big as those we’d seen farther north, but they were bigger than any trees at home.


Heading north along the coast we went past several motel type things, lodges, or whatever fancy name they gave them, and a few restaurants. The drive was as beautiful as yesterday’s drive with the ocean on one side and the beginning of the mountains on the other. There wasn’t as much fog coming over the mountains yesterday and visibility was excellent. Picture taking was still difficult since I felt it prudent to keep both hands on the wheel and a couple of eyes on the road, most of the time. It seemed anytime I tried to take a photo with one hand on the camera and the other holding my coffee I always drifted off the road a little. This darn GPS thingy just doesn’t do everything. She spends most of the time in her sleeping bag I fixed up for her.


When we reached Carmel we drove around a bit. All the streets were either steeply up or steeply down and pretty narrow. It was pretty crowded with a large cutesy shopping area covering several blocks. It was rather upscale looking compared to our slum like Carmel back in Indiana. From there we found a way to the seaside village of Pacific Grove which looked a bit more normal, to Midwest standards, and it had real parking places. We had a nice veggie lunch and looked at antiques in a shop there. They had a pretty nice Hepplewhite slant front desk for $12,500. It had some curious repairs. They also had a Queen Anne highboy that had a beautiful tiger maple top section and some other wood making up the bottom half. They were honest about it being a “marriage” piece and it might have even been as old as stated, but it would really take a very close look before popping for the $95,000 on the price tag. That is ninety five thousand dollars!


From there we drove through Monterey which was very much packed with weekenders and looked a lot like Nashville, Indiana on steroids, a lot of steroids at that. I guess Monterey is an old fishing port and canning was a big industry there. The old canneries have been turned into tourist meccas first class. Not really as upscale as Carmel, CarMELL and not like ours at home, Carmul.


We figured the campgrounds would be full and decided to try a Walmart. Nan Lou awoke the lazy Gabriella and she routed us to one about 161 miles away. We didn’t realize until after seven or eight miles when Gabby’s readout said our ETA was in over three hours. We had a little heart to heart talk with her and she spit out a bit more sensible info. Alas, the Walmart in Salinas said no-no so we continued to Gilroy with the help of the now fully awake Gabby and the big super duper center was good to go. Don’t you just love it when I talk semi mod?    hb    And so it goes! It is so hot I need to hang my head out the window and let my ears flap!  nl 



Sunday, June 06, 2010


We had a nice shady campsite in an area in the Wal Mart lot with no other cars, last night.  The sun shining on the van woke us up.  Then, the other shoe dropped. On firing up the van, the blower had turned up its toes in the night and refused to work.  And the LER has been such a good little van for this whole trip too!  So, in some order, we found a Dodge dealer and, unbelievably, a Panera’s for a bagel and coffee breakfast. Gabriella led the way to both.


Ham tinkered a while and decided it was time to go to the dealer and get in line and wait until morning, all the time hoping that this is one Dodge dealer who actually knows what he is doing, unlike the ones in Michigan.


We found out that we could get in line and wait until they open at 7:30 in the morning. It will be a cozy night’s sleep, I’m sure.  The day stretched long ahead of us.  We didn’t want to stress things by driving around too much.  BUT trusty Gabriella came to the rescue by telling us that the movie complex was about a mile way more or less.


So, we chose to see Heidi Heigl (sp?) and Ashton Krutcher in a stupid comedy called “Killers.”  It really couldn’t have been stupider, but despite that, it had some funny stuff and was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.


Not trusting either of our memories, we relied on Gabby to take us back to the Dodge dealer.  There, Hamilton, Problem-Solver-Extraordinaire got to work on the balky van.

The sun beat down but thank goodness there is a goodly breeze blowing.  I did nothing to help, of course.  Talk about feeling useless.  I asked, of course, and Ham always replied, “No!” to my offer of help.  He didn’t want me to further mess things up, I know.


After a bit, he started packing up his tools and such and climbed in the other back seat.  He said he fixed it.  Can you believe that?  Here is a description of the problem in his words. Heeee-eeers Hammy!      nl


“After checking voltages for the blower switch I thought there might be something wrong with the blower speed control (resistor) that is hidden away behind the glove box lining. Digging down I removed the resistor and it looked good (not burnt) and wired it up again. Then I checked the voltages all over again, at the resistor and at the switch and they were good. It seems the problem was dirty connections in the multi wire plug at the resistor.”


So, it appears that the blower problem is solved for the time being, but there is still the noisy air pump which I might have the Dodge people look at. The resistor connector plug could be replaced, if one is available, but a little contact cleaner might help. The wire to the blower motor gets very hot on high speed and there might be a motor problem. Maybe using the slower speeds will solve that, for a while.


We are now in the shade of the building and it is a lot more comfy. Our grocery shopping yesterday was done just in time since we had to eat in the van tonight.   hb  


I know I need a bath tonight.  I will do that after dark when we can pull the curtains.




Monday, June 07, 2010


It’s a good thing Ham set the alarm really early because he was outside talking to a service man between 6:30 and 7:00 A,M,  I am not too friendly at that time in the morning.  However, they took the van in right at 7:30, the official opening time of the service department.  Someone told Ham that the clattering noise was probably an exhaust leak.  He told them to go to it.  Then, he was totally surprised, when the mechanic called him back to get stuff out of the way so they could get into the engine compartment and then let him watch and even listen to noises through a stethoscope.  Most places won’t let the customer set a foot inside the garage area.  So, it was determined that it was the air pump and they had to get one from Napa.  There was a tiny exhaust leak but not enough to worry about at this stage of the game.


We used the shuttle service provided by the dealer and went to Mickey’s for coffee (not good) egg McMuffin (OK) and potato (greasiest I’ve ever had and couldn’t even eat it).

We walked back to the dealer since it was only about three blocks.

Ham showed me a $36,000 Rubicon that looked nice and then I went in to the waiting room to pour over their selection of magazines while Hammie got waylaid by a nice but Oh So Chatty salesman trying to sell him a new van.  Neither one of us could believe it when we were ready to go shortly before ten.  To the tune of five hundred dollars, that is.


We went out to find Los Perricos recommended by the salesman.  The place was supposed to have homemade tortillas.  The food was authentic and good as were the tortillas.


We came back to Wally’s Campground and rested and took naps and read.  All afternoon.  And, we are still at it.


His Nibs might have more, but that’s all from moi. nl


As NL said, I was totally shocked to be allowed to hang out in the service area while the Dodge Technician did some diagnostic work on the LER. In fact, I was totally surprised also by the speed, knowledge, and willingness to get the LER working right. Out of maybe six Dodge dealers we’ve dealt with this one is by far the best with one in Kentucky coming in a close second. Oh, by the way, they are Greenwood Motors, South County Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Gilroy, California. Like all auto dealers, they are expensive, but you couldn’t ask for better service. The preceding plug was not paid for or solicited in any way.


Los Perricos was not quite as good as Chico’s in LA. And there you have it.   hb      



Tuesday, June 8, 2010


It was going on 9 AM when we left Wally’s fine campground. I mentioned that it was so nice we should go and get a patio set with chairs, table, and an umbrella to set next to the LER.


Navigator Nan called on Gabriella for directions to Panera’s and they started leading us away from Panera’s. A quick check and we saw she would have taken us to a Panera’s 90 miles away. I think we just might not have the GPS operation down pat.


We decided to head back to the coast which meant going back a little or taking strange roads over the mountains. Not really being against strange anything, but not wanting to do the dirt road thing over the hills, we opted for the easy way to the coast. Once nearing the coast I went looking for a little coastal road rather than just taking California 1. This was my first mistake of the day. We ended up in a largish small town in one traffic jam after another because of the hordes going to the local beaches. We made it back to route 1 which was a freeway or damn close to being one. My next mistake was near Santa Cruz where I ended up in the wrong lane because of poor signage, some would say I just can’t read, and ended up going south and not north on route 1.


Using my powers as captain of the LER, I said, “To hell with the coast, we are taking route 17 over the mountains into San Jose.” Navigator Nan quickly put me in my place and called upon Gabriella for assistance to get me on the right track. Between the two of them, I was able to find my way through town to route 1 and we headed north as planned.


The drive up toward Half Moon Bay was fairly nice if you don’t mind poor visibility because of mist. It wasn’t the mini clouds coming over the hills every now and then, it was just a gray depressing all encompassing drab mist. There were several pull-offs for beach access, but the beach was down at the bottom of cliffs. I think the drive south of Monterey Bay was much prettier albeit one that took more attention to the road and made one keep eyes on the road with only quick glances at the beauty.


We found the Half Moon Bay State Park campground and for $35 we have a site with fellow campers within 20 feet on either side. The couple on our left was very friendly and told me where to go in HMB for food and fun. After going there and eating an overpriced quarter pounder in a little cafe I am ready to tell them where to go. I guess I cannot blame them that the sushi place was closed, the Italian place was very costly with killer chairs, and the deli had outdoor seating only in the frigid coastal air. They were nice and trying to be helpful to the Midwest hicks.


As I sit here watching some kids tossing a ball around, a couple is enjoying the great outdoors. They are dressed in a leather coat and a mackinaw with stocking hats pulled over their ears, and I have to wonder why they chose a trip to the beach when the weather is frigid.     hb   



Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The van was completely covered with droplets from the condensation from the mist.

It felt pretty cold, so I changed clothes and Hamilton dug out a warmer shirt.


Off we went to McD’s for breakfast.  It was filling and fruity.  In other words, we had the usual Egg McMuffin; but, along with it we had a banana, the sweet cherries (as they call them here in California; we call them Bing Cherries) and the left over donut delights from yesterday.  Now THAT was a breakfast.


Then it was on to San Francisco. Whoever that poor saint, Francisco, was, he would never believe the town now.  I do wonder what it looked like back in the day.  We saw the houses stacked on the hills as we drove into town.  This was reminiscent of L.A.  However, we soon noticed that they were all connected in rows (Boston row houses?) and the trees, if any, were few and far between.  After this observation, things only got worse.


Ham got off the freeway and into an industrial area underneath the freeways.  Since we read mysteries with San Francisco settings, this surely must be described in several of them.  Driving around we saw the boat going to Alcatraz and about two zillion people looking exhausted because they had walked miles from the parking lots to get there. Why woman know they are going to be walking up and down on stone steps, etc. but they choose to wear flip flops and high heel shoes, I’ll never know.  Several of them looked like the next step would be torture and they weren’t even on the boat yet.


 This situation inspired us to “carry on.”  Then we saw four zillion people on the sidewalks and lots and lots and lots of tacky shops and restaurants.  Of course we didn’t have a clue about what was going on. I looked up and saw a sign on a restaurant that read “1000” Fisherman’s Wharf.  Well maybe it was 100; I don’t remember.  So, was that a disappointment.  We thought we would see elegant restaurants, fishing boats, and perhaps a sea lion or two.  I believe I have mentioned that there was no parking except in private lots, some of which were indoors with high bays which would accommodate the LER.  These were so far from everything, however.  We passed!  We’re old, you know.


We did spot Telegraph Hill and considered a trip up to see the parrots, but with all the traffic, that idea was quickly nixed too.  We stopped on a metered street to consult Gabriella about how to get to Chinatown.  Like a good girl, she directed us right to the area. It was bigger than any either Hamilton or I had ever seen.  Also, most of the signs were in Chinese with no English sub titles.  It was quite interesting.


It was time to look for The Bridge and head northward.  Again, asking for Gabby’s help, she directed us through town with the finesse of a United Airlines Co-pilot.  Is that the carrier that got lost and ended up something like 500 miles off course?  Gabby did better than that.


I must say that the Golden Gate red bridge is very pretty.  As pretty as the Mackinac Bridge?  They say beauty is in the eye…blah blah blah; however, this one is very nice.

I started to get my panties in a twist when I couldn’t take a picture without the rickety old van hitting a bump or signs getting in the way, or something.  Also, I couldn’t find my sunglasses or my magnifying glass.  Also, I was tired of traffic, and not a green thing to be seen except small, stunted little things in pots. Give me L. A. any day.  Beautiful flowers all over, houses with actual yards, plantings in the traffic media; you get the idea.


The first thing we did was get lost and lose Rte. 1.  Again calling for help from faithful Gabriella, we got back on track and (thank God) didn’t get lost again all day.  The road was pretty but Hamilton kept saying that it wasn’t as pretty as the road south.  It was very nice scenery though, but the road was very, very curvy.   Ham said he wasn’t tired driving it because of power steering.  But there were very few straight stretches.


We stopped for a bite to eat in a tiny resort town called Stinson Beach which had a State Park of the same name.  Right now, I have to say that I have never, ever seen such ridiculous prices for food.  Last night our eight dollar hamburgers were a laugh.  I chose to have Polenta covered with pesto. It would have been about four bites if I hadn’t taken tiny ones.  Ham did like his clam chowder.  These people are nuts.  But, of course, if they can get by with it, why not?


Curvy road ahead, but we at long last came to Bodega Bay and the first Campground we saw was the Doran Regional Park.  We are in a fine site with a bay out our right side.  There is a nice sandy area with dune plants in bloom.  I wish I could take starts home, but they would never make it.


Ham has had a rest and a wee nap (I heard the small snores) and now he is playing Chef.

So, it is seven o’clock and he felt it was too early to write this, so I’m sure he will have a great deal to add, change, or whatever.  nl


Oh yes, I will add a great deal. We did get lost after we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. It was in the town of Tamalpais when we lost route 1 and ended up squirreling around the tight narrow streets of the old business district. Gabriella came to the rescue once more and we finally were on the right track. I am beginning to like that little sweetie.


We stopped at the Muir Beach Overlook and looked over Muir Beach. The views were exemplary in both directions and there were even three large freighters way out in the ocean. There also were three or four concrete and steel recesses built in the area with the remains of one inch thick steel left around their edges. I thought they might be what’s left of some WWII shore fortifications. There were no signs about them anywhere.   


I thought the streets of San Francisco were not as busy or as confusing as those in LA. Several of the city streets went up very steep hills, enough that I had worries about the LER being able to handle them. We saw old fashioned trolley busses, like regular busses but with trolleys going up to the myriad of wires strung all over the place. There were also old fashioned street cars very much like those I rode in Chicago sixty years ago. And of course the famous San Francisco cable cars. As NL mentioned, the houses in the residential sections we saw from the freeways looked like they were glued together and stacked one on the other.


Once we left the freeway to go into town we stayed on the surface streets. I guess because San Fran is such a small place area wise you don’t have to rely on scooting on and off the freeways to go across town as is so common in LA.


I say no more.   hb  



Thursday, June 10, 2010


Awake at eight and away by nine. Not too fast, but why hurry. According to the map and the GPS there should be a coffee shop in the little town of Bodega Bay. Hah! So we drove from one end to the other and settled for a big resort place named something like Tides Wharf which was part of a fancy motel which they called an Inn. The breakfast was huge, affordable, and good. Of course, the coffee could have been a little better. They had all kinds of photos about the making of the Hitchcock movie, “The Birds,” back in 1963. I guess the star Tipi Hedran must have visited there oft times, for autograph signings, since then. 


We wandered around the Tides property and over to a wholesale fish place with a dock which had the seals or sea lions gathered around waiting for handouts. We had seen them cavorting from the window of the restaurant as we ate.


Then we were off on good old route 1 along the coast. The views were beautiful with grassy hills on the right and cliffs to the sea on the left. Along the way there were stacks, that’s what they call those big rock like things jutting out of the water near the shore, all along the way. The waves were very big in some places and we had been told that one of the beaches along the area was the site of surfing championships in California. We didn’t see any surfers though, anywhere. The road was very like the roads to the south but yet it was different. More open grassy hills with scattered mini forests of eucalyptus and even a few small redwoods. The day was sunny and bright which was a change from the dreary day leading up to San Francisco.


After breakfast was wearing off I felt like a coffee and one of our stale donuts. We passed through a couple of small towns with no coffee in sight. Finally in Gualala I thought we could find some at a little place that served ice cream and pizza. They would have had to brew it and since we decided to have some mocha booger delight we bypassed the coffee and donut.


I was starting to get a case of numb butt and looking forward to one of the state parks near Mendocino. There is the VanDamme before and the Russian Gulch after. We stopped at VanDamme because it was first and also bigger. They had sites for this night but were full for the weekend. We secured a site, I napped, we cruised Mendocino, we commented on how it all looked bigger, we ate in the SP parking lot at the beach, we read a sign there which led us to believe it was an overflow site for one night only, we spoke about the strange looking dogs Californians have, we returned to the campsite, and we are settled in for the night.


Tomorrow we will explore Mendocino, which seems to have lost some of the charm that drew us here before, and then head up the coast with no hope of finding a campsite for two days. Even the larger towns like Fort Bragg and Eureka don’t have Wall-Marts to fall back on.   hb



Friday, June 11, 2010


We beat the crowd in Medocino and searched for those many little cafes we thought we saw last night.  Most of them had disappeared over night.  That’s OK because we decided to walk up the flight of stairs that originally led to an old wooden water tower and when we arrived at the second floor there was a largish café that was practically empty.  We chose a window table that had a wonderful view of the sea and the foam on distant rocks by the cliffs.  I learned it was not called “frothy stuff” but was correctly called foam.  These rangers are so particular.


Perusing a new and then used book store, we found nada.  Well, Ham found a book that he would have liked, after hemming and hawing about the fifteen dollar price, but the proprietor would not take credit cards.  There went that sale!


We could have paid cash; we’re getting a bit low.  We could have written a check; but, that was quite a bit of trouble, so, Ham said phooey to the whole thing.


Then it was off down the road.  Curvy road, of course, along the coast.  It was a very pretty day.  Not so much wind and the sun was shining nicely. The temperature was in the low seventies, so for once I wasn’t freezing to death.  I told the ditsy ranger mentioned above that I hadn’t been warm since I arrived in California, and he said nothing, just looked at me as if I were nuts.  That’s a given, of course.


Finally Highway One left the coast and snaked through forest for thirty some miles.  The crossword guy would say the road was eely.  We are talking one S curve after another. And, in those kind of conditions, it took forever to go just a few miles.  Poor Ham, his poor back started to hurt and he just had to be miserable.  We thought that things would improve when Route 1 ended and we then took good old Route 101.  Part of it became a freeway.  But it was an easy travel after said eely road.


We had seen lots of motorcycles on the road and the reason why became apparent when we saw tents set up and, conservatively, fifty bikes all parked at the side of the road and more coming.


There were four State Parks right in a row and we stopped at the first one we saw, even though it was not really the first one.  It’s called Richardson’s Grove, or something like that.  It was about 3:30 P.M. about that time, so it seemed prudent to spend the night here.


We have a VERY private site and a Redwood or two to call our very own.  It is v.v. nice.

Hamilton is napping after working hard to prepare our dinner.  Tuna for him, chicken for me, carrots, apples, Pringles, and Kombucha tea!  What a meal! What more could a traveler want.


The LER is very dark because of the canopy caused by the Redwoods, but the sun broke through a wee break in the branches.  I think it is going to be warmer tonight, although we haven’t been cold at all.  That’s under the red bag, not during the day!  I freeze during the day with the coastal wind.  Ham is snoozing peacefully, so I think I’ll fire up Gater and play a game.  nl 



Saturday, June 12, 2010


Starting about six I heard a rumble every now and then. It was the bikers on the “Redwood Run” motorcycle rally. I guess they were leaving the tent city at Cooks Valley and going up the road a few miles to Garberville for breakfast. That’s what we had planned to do and I thought there might be no room at the inn. When we got to Garberville sure enough there were hordes of bikers and all eateries looked crowded. Nan, the resourceful, opened the door to a little place we had peeked in a short while before and there were two free tables. It was a good choice with good food and very good coffee. Its name was Wild Rose Café, or some kind of rose anyway.


Naturally NL attracted many smiles from the bikers just as she does from the cowboys in Oklahoma, or wherever, and that put her in a good mood. Or, maybe it was the first good cup of coffee in many days.


We headed north toward the Avenue of the Giants, which parallels route 101, to see the redwoods up close and personal. They are truly magnificent with many over fifteen feet in diameter and the small ones far bigger than any tree at home. The Avenue has many stops where you can park and stroll through groves of trees. The bikers were roaring up and down the road going from stop to stop just as we were doing. The few we spoke to were very friendly and some were from as far as Los Angeles and other states too. Most were on Harleys and sounded like they had straight pipes, which they probably did.


Somewhere along the route, yesterday or maybe today, route 1 ended when it hit US 101 which is mostly four lane and went back and forth from being called a freeway to being called just plain US 101. I couldn’t tell the difference between freeway and non-freeway except when it was a two laner.


We stopped at Eureka for our first Carl’s Jr. of the trip. It put Mickey to shame. Then we were off expecting to find the ocean front road with the camping area along the water side of the road a mile or so south of Orick where we had stayed in years past, the last time was 12 years ago. Hoo Haa, when we reached it the signs proclaimed it was for day use only. Disappointment reigned like cats and dogs. A short bit up the road we stopped at the visitor center and found out that ten years ago in some merger deal the state of Californication the state took control of some parks, maybe all, in the area. I don’t really think they could wrest control from the feds, but Arnold, or his predecessor, probably saw the big bucks there and flexed a few muscles and the financially frugal feds gave in. Everything in the area is a joint state and fed area now. So, a $10 fed site going to old farts for $5 is now a $35 state site going to the same old farts for $33. Almost all the California state parks we’ve been in cost $35 ($33) and you do not have water, electricity, or a sewer to hook up to. A chintz like myself thinks this sucks like a Hoover. 


Onward we went toward Crescent City. On the way there we saw a sign for Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park with the little tent icon. By the time I read all of that I had to back up to turn in. Then a sign said the campground was two point two miles down the park road. I going to turn around but the road was narrow and curvy so we forged on to the gatehouse where a nice lady pleasantly greeted us and told us how to find a site and come back to pay. We managed to do that and are now settled in for the night in our no frills (primitive) $33 site. At least there are really big redwood trees that have shed their tiny little cones which seemed to be strangely missing from all the other places we’ve been.


Just a little fact for all you faithful readers; California has many miles of shoreline and we’ve seen very little of it with level sandy beaches. It is mostly braes going right into the ocean.   hb    



FROM 2000

The trees in the morning “God’s light” as Robert Kincaid would say, were something to behold. We moved on down the road hoping to find an eatery for breakfast.  We came zooming around a curve; and, lo and behold, there was the beach we had seen three years earlier with all the campers lined up parallel to the water.  What fun! We had wondered and wondered what that beach was and where it was.


Actually, it is part of the Redwood National and State Park  and is called Freshwataer Lagoon Spit.  It is a mile south of Orick and just south of the National Park visitor’s center.  We took a long walk, it seemed to me, through very gritty sand to a rocky outcropping at the end of the beach.  Ham wanted to go through a natural tunnel to the other side of the rock, but I wouldn’t let him, much to his chagrin.  This was the beach where the Sleepy Wave almost swept me out to Davy Jones Locker, and I didn’t want to tempt Davy again. The large rock was pretty with orange and yellow lichen kind of stuff looking like it had been swirled on with paint.  Since the pounding waves were so neat, Ham cooked a multi course breakfast that was fit for kings.  By the way, we ate first then took the walk. We had parked next to a pick up camper that had people who looked like they came right out of the very back hollers of KY or TN.  Dirty as could be to boot! Then two more guys come up in a pick up with, what Fox said, was almost a thousand bucks worth of chain saws in the back.  We went down the road a piece before our walk, not wanting to tempt them with the riches of the LER too much.


We ate lunch in Orick, then it was on to see more big trees, which I have grown inordinately fond of.  We turned off Rte. 101 and took an alternate scenic route through a forest of very big trees.  In fact, we took a short walk to see one called “Big Tree”. The fact it was 1500 years old was more impressive than its great size, I think. 




Sunday, June 13, 2010


Happy Anniversary to Us!  Happy Anniversary to Us!  Tra La La!  Tra La Boom De Ay!!!

Forty six years sounds like such a long time; and yet it has gone so fast.  I suppose what they say is true; that, the older you get the faster time flies.  Anyway, since we awoke to a holiday, so to speak, we dawdled around in bed much longer than usual.  Being deep in a Redwood forest, it was dark because, except for a flash or two, the sun couldn’t penetrate through the trees.  This made it easier to stay comfy under the red bag for a longer time.


We took a tiny walk to see the huge hollow log that kids could actually crawl through.  We had a chat with a pseudo ranger who was at least 13 years old.  Again, time changes one’s perception of the age of others.  I’m totally convinced the world is run by high schoolers.  Our campsite was very neat with a log stump made of thee huge trees that had grown together.  We took a while to marvel at this and take our Anniversary portrait, which no one will see and admire except us.


And then…..the other shoe dropped!!!!!  The van didn’t start charging when Hammie started up!  Well, he can explain it in more detail, of course, but quickly here it was the same problem we had a year and a half ago when on the road in Minnesota.  We then had it fixed at the so-called reliable Devington auto.  Well, it putzed around a time or two then started charging.  Ham says he has all his jury rigging equipment to keep things running a while.  As I said, he will have to add details about this problem.


We went to Denny’s in Crescent City for breakfast.  That’s because we ate there years ago.  We are pathetic.  Then we went to the ocean front to see the houses and to see the seals or sea lions (whatever they were) that were barking up a storm the last time we were there.  They have found another rock somewhere, because they sure weren’t to be seen, or heard, this year.  Do they migratae?  Were they out feeding?  This will remain a mystery because we will never know.


Heading north, we soon came to the Oregon border.  The first town was Brooking.  I remembered a town just over the border that had a main street with galleries and gift shops and someone told us about the wind velocity being at hurricane levels and they thought nothing of it.  If this was Brooking, everything had changed.  It does look like something could stay the same.


The coastal drive was, guess what, windy…very windy.  The sea stacks were much, much larger and closer to the shore.  The sea was teal blue and it was a very pretty drive.


The van continued to run.


I started to get hungry and crabby.  What else is new?


We stopped at a huge bookstore in Gold Beach.  It was so big it even had an elevator to the second floor.  The prices were pretty steep; but, I finally succumbed and bought a Tai Chi book that I will enjoy reading.


Finally we came to Humbug Mountain State park and there were plenty of camp sites available.  The price of seventeen dollars was a far cry from the thirty three dollars we were forced to pay in California.  When we found out that you could even put in your credit card number, we determined we were truly in a civilized place.


We had a LER repast and at last my grouchiness abated.  Ham has a sore back but refuses to lie down because he would go to sleep and then be awake for long periods in the night.


Who knows whether the recalcitrant LER will start in the morning.  Do prayers work on vans?


Hammie just informed me that the town that I mentioned as Brooking was really Port Orfid and is the next town up the road.  Thank Goodness!  At least I don’t have to worry about things changing THAT much.  I’m looking forward to see if it is basically the same and if the whales have left the dock like the seals left the rock. Great poetry, dontcha think?  Dock, rock, get it?


That’s it for me.  Ham will have lots more to add; I know!  nl


I don’t want to talk about the LER. I talked to a Canadian biker who was on his way to Arizona from up north in British Columbia. He does 500 to 600 miles per day and is going to Mesa to buy a winter place. His winters are six months long.


The two bikers I spoke to in the redwoods park from LA made their trip in a day and a half. These biker guys really move.


After we left Crescent City I thought food prospects seemed really bad. NL, my lovely lover of 46 years, said it was just because I am so cheap. There is truth to that, but I just hate to pay more than $3.95 for a really bad meal, and if there were any places that looked like they could put out something tasty, I missed them. We stopped at a place that had big signs about smoked salmon. It was something close to $30 a pound. We tasted several samples and left empty handed. You can’t beat Michigan for smoked fish.


I say no more except to wish my Sweetie a Happy Anniversary.  XXXOOOXXX    hb



Awwww!  That was so sweet!  I’m not crabby any more <3 !!!!  Here’s to a lot more!  nl 

xxxooo <3     



Monday, June 14, 2010


We left the Humbug Mountain SP about nine and found a good, big breakfast in Port Orford. The LER did not start charging until we restarted in Port Orford. I had the external voltage regulator installed last night and ready to hook up when needed. I checked the availability of an engine computer at a parts store and the guy running it there said my problem with the regulator/computer was not uncommon in Dodges. He said my jury rigged fix was a good way to go.


After driving a back road around in circles in town I found the big pier with the whole bunch of fishing boats on it where we had looked for whales many years ago. This pier is so big you can drive on it right out to the end. Boats are put in the water with a giant hoist. I guess there is some seafaring reason why it is done that way instead not docking the boats at a smaller pier.


The overlook for this area used to have a gallery of some kind, photo or painting or both, but that was gone and everything was residential. One place had a lot of big windows and it might have been the gallery. It was just as windy as it was many years ago. People seem to think that 70 MPH winds are nothing to bat an eye at. One gust pulled the driver’s door out on my hand and it hasn’t been closing quite right since.


The next stop was Bandon. There were shops there and we bought a couple of books and had some very week coffee and a little sweetening. We also looked at the wind driven waves breaking against the ubiquitous offshore stacks, the big rocks towering from two to maybe over 100 feet. This whole west coast is one giant rock after another. We argued about the place we saw once we thought was a good deal for a fixerupper. I said it was one place, Nan Lou said it was another. Maybe it wasn’t either since there had been a slight upscale renovation in the area. Nan Lou is probably right since she is Queenosabe.


When we got to Coos Bay Gabriella told us there was a WalMart there. She tried to direct us there but it seemed she was all screwed up on the street names. She would say, “Turn left on John street,” just as we came up to Mary street. I think she was just being bitchy since we haven’t called upon her for help in many days. We whizzed through Coos Bay up to Reedsport, then Florence, and finally stopped at the northern Tahkenitch campground which was a NFS place and only cost nine dollars. There were two separate campgrounds with the same name and both were empty. We wondered where all the people had gone; there were plenty of RVs of one sort or another on the roads around here. The host lady said it was unusually quiet and would pick up after this week when school was out.


Just a little note about the coastal driving in California. The roads, route 1 and US 101, curve along the coast going up and down as necessary. We checked with the GPS on one once and we went from a low point near sea level up to 1400 feet before going down to almost sea level again. This went on and on all the way up the coast although I think that was the highest rise we climbed.   hb     



FROM 1998:

We had heard the city had an “old town” section which had shops, etc.  We looked in a gallery or two, then Ham (not Fox) asked a realtor about a house we had seen in a brochure.  It was on a jetty and it was $99,000.  Well, we went out to see it with the world’s prissiest realtor who was in a big, big hurry.  It was in a neat location.  Two little cottages jointed together with a viney courtyard of sorts.  The smaller place had been a Christian coffee shop. The larger one was bigger than we thought.  It had a do-it-yourself addition that was two stories, and it it hadn’t been so foggy, you could have seen the water.  It WAS livable  as is if you could get the dog poop smell out of the carpeting.  With a bunch of money, we could have fixed up the outside to be cute too.  There were several iffy things.  Most especially, the aspect of flooding in storms, since it was rather low.  Also we knew nothing about the area.  Later, discussing the whole thing, we found out Ham was thinking of it as a full time home, and I was thinking about it as a summer cottage.  If we had a scanner, we could put it in the journal for future reference.  Maybe Ham can do a better description.



Tuesday, June 15, 2010


We had the whole campground to ourselves and our site had a nice view of the lake.  It can’t get any better than that!  We slept later than usual because it was a cloudy morning so we didn’t have to deal with sun streaming in and making a sauna out of the LER.  It really did get chilly last night.  I am sleeping in my flannels and even Hammie, known in some areas as Tonto of Warm Blood, had his long jammy pants on.  The red bag has done an adequate job thus far, however.  It is, indeed, more comfortable than the stiff blue job.


Anyway, we ate at Morgan’s in Dunes City and were decadent in our choice because we both had corned beef hash with cheese and green salsa, and two over easy eggs perched on top of the whole thing. Egad!  We will have to eat healthy for days to overcome that cholesterol overload.


Soon we came to “The largest Sea Cave in the World” according to Mr. Guiness  It was supposed to have frolicking sea lions, not sleeping blobs like the elephant seals.  We really splurged the eleven bucks to see this aquatic wonder.  We passed on this phenomena the last time we were in the area.


First we had to walk down thirty seven steps.  Ham reminded me that I went up and down Evans’ steps several times a day, so I felt in shape to conquer these.  Then, we took an elevator down 200 ft or so to the bowels of the earth.  Another slanty path and you could hear the Ahh-ooom of the sea lions.  When we came to a largish viewing room, we immediately saw the critters were safely behind a wire mesh.  A hole was thoughtfully left in it, for the photographers of the world.


The animals were a bit more active than the elephant seals.  They were perched on several levels of rocks and it was a mystery to me how they managed to climb up there without the use of arms or legs.  Just four flippers, thank you very much.  We did see a couple climb down a level or two and one was at the edge of the water and waited for a big wave to practically wash him in. 

It was an interesting site, for sure.  We agreed it was worth the price of admission as we started our first climb back to the top.  When we got off the elevator, there were those thirty seven steps.  But, Hammie was right, as usual, they were not bothersome at all.  However, the steep sloping path going back up required at least three rest stops.  I think they could do something to make the whole thing easier, if they could build an elevator going that far through solid rock.


I waited as Ham went to a different viewing area, and met a young man who had lived in Indianapolis for a year.  He lived in the high rise building that is now trashed at Fall Creek and Allisonville Road.  He knew exactly where Glendale was.  We had a nice visit.

He seemed like a nice kid.


On we went, doing just fine until we got to Waldport where we stopped to browse a book store and got back on what we thought was Rte. 101.  The road was narrow with dense vegetation on both sides and a river running along side. Finally I asked Ham if we were on the right road.  This was prudent because some low mountains lay straight ahead.  This was supposed to be an ocean road, not a river road.  Hamilton quickly checked Gabriella and found out that we were on Alsea Road.  So back we went. Anyway, that wee mistake on the part of moi, navigator dense, was a sixteen mile round trip.  I think Ham is going to trade me for full time Gabriella any day now.


With no further complications, we decided to stay at Beverly State Park rather than go on to Lincoln.  It seemed like the road was getting busier and busier the farther north we went.  Even so, there were plenty of sites left in the campground; and, in fact, we have one that is quite private and jungly looking. The cost was twenty one dollars, which is a lot worse than last night’s nine, but a lot better than California’s thirty-five.


I forgot to mention that we stopped in Florence and went in a couple of book stores.  Such high prices, they have here on the coast of Oregon.  It makes the stores in Pasadena seem like Dollar Trees.  Not really, but…….! Florence was a town much like Saugatuck.  A nice break from the open road!


That’s it for me.  Ham is glued to Kellerman, so I don’t know if he will want to read this now, later, or never.  Nl


Click here for Part 4