After leaving the beautiful still serenity of my campground in the Redwoods (The Journey to Ft. Bragg post), I started looking for a gas station in town. My plan was to make the long drive to Coos Bay, Oregon. I didn’t have a place to stay lined up though, so I was pretty much up for whatever. While I was driving I saw a young couple walking in a ditch down the side of the road and I felt strongly that I should pick them up. I’d never picked up hitchhikers before. I kept driving though and pulled into a nearby gas station to fill up. While filling up my tank, I noticed that the couple had walked to the gas station and set up shop in front of the door with their cardboard sign. I walked up to the boy. He was a short, shrimpy looking kid between the age of 18 and 20. “Where are you looking to go? I’m on my way to Oregon.” He got all excited, “We’re looking to go to Eureka.” “Ok, I’ll give you guys a ride.” “Oh, thank you! What can I do for you? Can I wash your windows?” “Um… ok…” I rearranged my car, while the boy washed my windows.
Category Archives: California
The Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to leave San Francisco. I thought that if I left before noon, I’d miss traffic. Everyone in San Francisco seemed to have the same idea.
I spent three hours crawling along the 101 at 20 miles an hour, when I finally decided to take the next exit wherever it may lead. The exit was for Petaluma. A charming little town, I carried my lunch to the park to eat and bought the next book in my series… I had just finished A Storm of Swords. I found many of the stores interesting and I enjoyed walking along the old docks.
San Francisco is the weirdest place I’ve been. I heard I would love it. I heard I could make way more money if I lived there. Well, I suppose I could make more money if I lived there, but considering the price of rent it wouldn’t really mean very much. The hostel was twice as expensive as any hostel on my trip. In addition to being more expensive, I also had to pay $24 for 24 hours to park my car in a nearby garage. I did the math and determined I wasn’t going to be staying in San Francisco for very long.
The HI San Francisco City Center was one of the most beautiful hostels. I rolled my suitcase across the marble floor of the lobby in the old 1920s hotel feeling elegant. The hostel was filled with unique and beautiful decorations, a chic romantically lit bar and a mezzanine on the second story that overlooked the lobby. They played old black and white movies at night, but I didn’t stay in very much.
I spent some time walking around the neighborhood aka Little Saigon. San Francisco is filled with beautiful architecture, there were interesting shops and galleries in the area to stop in, murals to take pictures of and TONS of homeless people. Actually all of San Francisco is filled with people living on the street, which makes the entire city kinda dirty (um… that poop on the sidewalk probably isn’t dog poop. Dog owners are pretty good about scooping up in California. Sidewalk squatters aren’t quite as considerate.) Feeling a little overwhelmed, I decided to call the one person I know in San Francisco – my friend Robin I met at the hostel in Austin during SXSW. Here’s the recap if you want the background story.
Absolutely beautiful and relaxing, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel is located right over the cliffs from the beach. It is known for its hot tub overlooking the water. The view is amazing. I enjoyed eating dinner and having a few beers with some of the other hostellers. I met lots of interesting people: a lady from the area, coming back after a long time, two guys bicycling the coast and some girls from Europe. Flowers grew all along the cliffs. I heard that many of the flowers are actually non-native and that they were planted there to prevent erosion. It was breathtaking.
The roads from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite wind around and around. I’m not used to mountain driving, but it doesn’t really scare me. You just stay on the road. The height doesn’t really worry me too much, because I keep my eyes on the road. Paying attention is probably the most helpful thing one can do in mountain driving where staying on the road becomes even more important than it is on flat land.
I was happy to rest in Angel’s Camp for a while. A cute little town, I loved how they had clothes hanging over the street. It reminded me of shoes that hang above Spectre in Big Fish. Signs were in every window for the upcoming Culaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee. Apparently Angel’s Camp’s claim to fame is that Mark Twain published a story about a frog from there.
I didn’t really have a place to stay planned out for Yosemite. I thought I’d find a camping spot either inside the park or somewhere nearby. I had heard rumors about maybe some nearby BLM camping. I was caught off guard though when I found out that all the campgrounds in Yosemite were filled to capacity and that there wasn’t any BLM land nearby. I decided the smart thing to do would to be to stop and rent a bear can at least, so if I did make some last-minute camping arrangements than I wouldn’t have to worry about my car being broken into.
The first natural wonder I stumbled upon was Mono Lake. From a distance I was in awe of the beautiful colors reflecting off the water and interested in the strange formations coming up from the water. I found out that the water in Mono Lake is actually really salty, saltier than the ocean. I walked up to the edge, it had an alkaline smell. Gulls hang out and nest there before making their way to the Pacific on little islands of rock in the lake.
I arrived at dusk in Bishop, CA. I decided I was going to enter Yosemite from that side, as my climber friend John, who I met in Vegas was free camping out there and invited me to join him. He also has his car set up to sleep in and I felt more secure with the thought of camping parked next to someone I knew. I found the rode and drove down it, as the sun set behind the mountains. I drove and drove and never found his car. I ended up finally getting ahold of him and I found out he had already left for his next stop. Disappointed and in the dark, I decided to try to find a place in town. Unfortunately the only place I found was the Super 8. I hated spending so much money on a bed! It was the only motel I’ve stayed at for this entire trip.
I met Hamid at a nearby Starbucks. I wanted to be extra cautious Couchsurfing with someone new to the community. My first impression confirmed all the stereotypes I had of Southern Californians: healthy, attractive, tan, linen pants, sandals, beanie, man jewelry, shades, kinda metro. I go to shake his hand, and he tells me he’s a hugger. He has a really laid back, generous vibe.
I ask if we can go to Target before his place, because I need to pick up, “you know, some bread, some pretzels…. lettuce.” He gives me a smirk, “I have pretzels, I have bread. I have too much of it.”
Later at his place, I realized he was right. He shopped at Cosco and had a giant jar of pretzels. In Woodland Hills, the neighborhood was vivid with spring. Hamid’s yard had a forest of rose blossoms in the front. It’s a beautiful spacious house, a grand piano is the focal point of the granite and light filled living space. Musical instruments and speakers fill the rest of the surface.
I pulled into Long Beach, so excited to see the Pacific. I remembered looking out on the Atlantic from the St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse the weekend before I left looking forward to this day. I felt a wave of bliss over my accomplishment. I had managed to traverse across the entire country by myself! I was invited to Couchsurf with Marc and his roommate right on Ocean Ave. It was right in the middle of the action and across the street from the beach. Things were pretty noisy and parking was difficult in this very urban environment. I didn’t realize that I had scheduled my arrival for the weekend of the Toyota Grand Prix. The races greatly affected parking availability.
I started the first evening with a walk on the beach. I made several lady bug friends in the sand. I know I’ve been lucky. I picked them up and they crawled all over my arms. They were my lucky little friends, coming to join me on my luck. Read the rest of this entry
I soon felt antsy in Vegas and knew it was time to go. I filled up my water pack and two bottles of water and headed out for a long day driving through the desert. That day was one of the best days! I drove down isolated roads with the windows rolled down blasting my newly charged iPod. Everything was so desolate in Mojave, yet so beautiful. I felt like the landscape, free with all cares abandoned.