Archive for June, 2009

Redwoods & a deserted Hobbiton

June 22, 2009

Saturday, 20 June 2009.  I awoke to another fine day.  It was sunny and comfortable.  I decided I would catch breakfast up the road.  I did my shoulder exercises, packed the car and headed north.  Drive was quite pleasant with light traffic.  The scenery was quite nice and the road wound between and through fields. 

Just south of Phillipsville I got off of 101 and onto the Avenue of the Giants.  I took my time and slowly drove down the road that wound between giant trees.  It was most relax will.  In Phillipsville I asked about the whereabouts of Hobbiton, USA.  It turned out and that I had passed the overgrown sign to Hobbiton, USA next to the sign that proclaimed The Chimney Tree.  I returned both the café and Hobbiton, USA were closed.  I took a picture of the sign and then started walking up the path.  It turned out that there are some tenants living on the grounds and warned me off as I was trespassing.  Darn!  While I was there, at least 10 cars slow down to give the area a look. 

I think the owners are vastly underestimating the attraction of Hobbiton, USA.  Granted it would cost a fair bit of change to bring the area back to high standards.  However, I would bet and donate some money that if the owners asked for help on The One Ring.Net and The Frodo Franchise blog, they would attract more than enough talent who would be willing to work for free in order to restore Hobbiton, USA to splendor.  All they would have to do is put up a plaque afterwards indicating which human, Elf, dwarf, etc., had helped with the restoration.  Moreover, they could host an annual picnic on the weekend closest to 1 May, which I believe is the date that Bilbo returned to Bagend, to do a spring cleanup on the grounds for the following tourist season. 

I sorrowfully took my leave and slowly headed up the Avenue of the Giants.  It is truly a magnificent experience to slowly drive this road.  Some of the trees along the road appeared to be about 10 feet in diameter.  Further away there must’ve been even bigger trees than those along the road.  It was truly an invigorating experience for the soul and mind. 

It was a short drive after the Avenue of the Giants ended to Eureka where I stayed for the evening.  Once in my room I’ve read for awhile, then went to the adjacent restaurant for dinner, called up a few friends to work on meetings along the road and then read some more until I turned out to light.  

I also decided I would spend an additional night here as I was meeting an old friend for a late lunch and rather than try and drive on afterword would put my feet up, make some phone calls and read little bit.  I would head out to some parks on Monday morning.

North to Ukiah via a 1 lane road

June 22, 2009

Friday, 19 June 2009.  Up and at them at a reasonable hour and under sunny skies I had a light breakfast at the restaurant attached to the hotel.  The blueberry coffee cake was really excellent.  As I hadn’t heard for my friends, they are allowed to have their own lives, I decided to press on through and north of San Francisco. 

To start is some work in my diary.  Taking a break I checked the rate at the Motel 6 in San Rafael.  It was quite high.  As it was only 10:30, I decided to head north and see how far I can get. 

I headed up Hwy 1 through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge.  I hadn’t been either by the bridge or over the bridge a long, long time.  It is truly an impressive structure. Highway 1 soon left 101 and began its torturous path through the hills and to the coast.  I had decided that I would skip Muir Woods as I would have the chance to wander through some redwood forests along the way.  Interestingly, I never did see his sign that said Muir Woods.  There were some signs pointing to it but not at the entrance or at least I missed them. 

I then began a couple hours of driving that was alternately bliss and a real pain in the butt.  The tourist season had obviously started as there were way too many RVs chugging up the road.  To this one must add cars driven by folk who either were terrified of the road or decided that watching the scenery at 10 miles an hour, regardless of the number of people backed up behind them, was appropriate. 

Somewhere north of Jenner I had had enough and would head back to 101 and continue north on that road.  I spied a road that seemed to go through and took it.  The road was Fort Ross Road.  I often joke about roads that were laid out by drunken snakes with hiccups.  The snake was not only emaciated but also had DT’s.  Approximately 10 to 15 miles of the road was one lane winding through eucalyptus and redwood trees.  It was an absolute delight to drive.  My only worry was running into a car coming the other way.  By the time I met some opposing traffic I was on a road that was maybe a lane and a half wide so there is no problem.    Once I had gotten out of the hills I found myself in “hic” country.  They were fields of grapes all around me.  I don’t know if this was one of the major areas for wine growing but they’re sure was a lot of.  I eventually made my way through the countryside and found 101. 

The drive was quite nice heading up to 101.  Penn decided to make for Ukiah as there was a Motel 6 there. 

I settled into a motel room, went out for bite to eat, read and called a friend.  And then to sleep for tomorrow I would search for the elusive Hobbiton, USA.

Up the coast

June 22, 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009.  Got a fairly good night’s rest and awoke to find a hazy overcast and cool morning.  I headed down to Denny’s for a grand slam breakfast and on the way back I noticed the cloud cover, probably high fog, had more or less listed in the sun was out.  About time to get some work done on my diary.  While I didn’t upload diary entries to my blog, I did get about five or six days recorded.  I should catch up with over the next day or two and be able to post my entries. 

About noon, under bright sun, I headed up Highway 1 to the San Francisco area.  The first portion of the trip up to Santa Cruz was slow, rather pleasant but nothing special.  I did get a look at your grocery stores vegetables being harvested in the field.

The drive north of Santa Cruz was exceedingly nice.  The only real problem was getting through the CF that is known as Santa Cruz.  This is where I once again had some problems following almost nonexistent traffic signs.  Highway 1, the rest of the way, hugs the coast and is well worth the drive.  The drive it has gentle hills and curves as it runs almost on the beach to cliffs overlooking the sandy beaches.  For the most part I was not bothered by insane drivers, though there were a few, and could enjoy a leisurely drive up the coast. 

Ignorance is bliss.  Unfortunately, it also leads to driving on a road that appears to be the only one, it isn’t really, from the coast to San Francisco Bay.  Route 92 is a very beautiful drive marred only by the fact that there is a continuous heavy stream of traffic from one coast to the other.  The road snakes through rising hills almost to the Bay before dropping down onto the coastal roads.  It would be great fun to drive without the traffic. 

After petrol I found my motel and called Janet Coyle who arranged the Middle-earth Tours for us.  I dropped by for a lovely chat.  All too soon I headed back to the motel.  I once again tried to call a couple folk but to no avail. 

After reading for a couple hours I headed back into Belmont to Toto’s Pizza where I had some ravioli.  It was quite good.  Dessert was some Baskins and Robbins ice cream.  I headed back to the motel, watched some TV and read.  No response from my friends.  After a shower standing in a tub that didn’t drain, a call to the night.

Curvy roads & glass spaceships

June 22, 2009

Wednesday, 17 June 2009.  It was a lovely sunny day when I got up and headed over to IHOP for light breakfast.  Between various delays, I don’t do mornings well, I didn’t really get on the road until about 10:30.  

The initial part of the journey was up to 101.  In many ways this was the slowest part of the first half of the trip.  Not only was traffic heavy but there were occasional blockages due to construction and just driver stupidity.  The drive was pretty but nothing special for about the first 200 miles.  Having gotten started about 2 1/2 hours later than I would’ve liked, I’d decided to forgo visiting Hearst Castle.  Who knows, one of these days I may get back and see it.  

The next 90 miles up the coast to Monterey were much more fun to drive when I wasn’t stuck behind a terrified driver or one who decided that pulling over in order to look at the scenery was much too much trouble and preferred to drive slowly which allowed the driver to block traffic for the 20 or 30 cars following behind.  There were stretches where I could let the car run and drive through the corners while feeling a little bit of a G force.  Now that was fun. 

I finally made it to Monterey, actually Marina, found my Motel 6 and rang up Joy Day.  Joy is a sculptor of glass.  I met up with her and her partner at the Running Iron for dinner.  I had one of the specialty burgers and it was excellent.  We had a lovely chat talking about costuming, art, road racing and a few other topics.  Joy’s partner, also an artist, is involved in auto racing and has an Indy 500 winner’s ring to prove it.  Joy was kind enough to bring down a sample of her glasswork for me to admire.  

After a delightful evening I headed back to the motel, cleaned up some e-mail and read.  I did not read too long as I was tired and quickly turned out the light.

A lazy day in Simi Valley

June 22, 2009

Tuesday, 16 June 2009.  I sort of slept in on a day that was quite pretty.  I had high hopes for actually getting something done but my resolve deserted me and I curled up and simply read. 

I did start the day by going over to IHOP and picking out on one of their new butterscotch creations which gave me all the sugar I needed for the next week.  However, it was so good. 

I was slightly good as I did do my shoulder exercises.  The left shoulder seems to be more or less fully healed.  And the other hand the right shoulder still hurts from a combination of arthritis and tendinitis.  At times it is a great inhalation of breath to grow older. 

Many pages later I got a call from Lynn that she had finished her work for the day and did I want company.  Of course,  I did.  When she arrived, we headed across the street for some pizza.  It wasn’t bad, and the place was civilized as it served Pepsi.  Afterwards, we finish cleaning some photos off my laptop and browsed through a bunch of others that still remained.  

Her company was a very fine ending to a lazy day.

Roosevelt HS & food.

June 22, 2009

Monday, 15 June 2009.  It was a cool morning under typical June Gloom.  I goofed off for while instead of doing my diary and then headed out for a delightful lunch. 

I first got some gas as I was running on fumes and then drop by the almost adjacent AAA office.  I was able to get most of the maps I wanted but it was slightly frustrating. 

The drive over to the Simi Deli was shorter than I expected.  Not too much traffic up here.  Here being Simi Valley.  Sitting out front waiting for the horde to arrive was Mary Satlin.  She lives up to here and suggested the deli as a place to be.  It was an excellent suggestion as the food proved to be quite good and the service excellence.  Having arrived early Mary and I chatted until the rest arrived.  We were joined by a Harry and Laura Turtledove, Mary and Steve Montgomery, though I know Mary from the years and years ago as Mobi.  In fact it is probably been about 30 years since I last saw Mobi.  Lin Daniel and, though a little bit late, Todd McCaffrey.  After about two hours we finally called it a lunch and headed out. 

I gave Lin my laptop so she could attempt to fix a couple of the problems I was having with it. 

Two plus hours later I picked her and my laptop on and we headed over to Sherman Oaks for dinner.  I just happened to be in the area for the monthly meeting of the Chicago area high school graduates, mainly from Roosevelt high school.  Also joining us with Laura Freas.  Meals are a great way to meet up with friends while you’re on the road. 

It was finally time to call it a night and tomorrow I would see if the computer sort of worked.  I me have to use them but I don’t have to like them.

Across the Valley …

June 22, 2009

Sunday, 14 June 2009.  Up and at them, sort of.  It was time to give Kim and Susan back their guest bedroom.  After making sure I have a place to stay for that evening, Kim, Susan, James, Kim’s son, and I headed off for breakfast.  Afterwards, I finished loading up the car, said fond farewells and headed up the pike to Simi Valley.  I was going to stay up there for a couple days.

92 miles later and about two hours I reached my goal, Motel 6.  The drive from Mira Loma to Simi Valley was just a tad bit shorter than the drive on Friday to San Diego to see my cousin and her husband. 

My friend Lin joined me for dinner. We also watched some Mythbusters on TV.  They were having much too much fun blowing up things, and we both wondered how we could get jobs on the show.

The End of the Route!

June 21, 2009

Saturday, 13 June 2009.  Alas, all good things must come to an end.  I got up fairly early, had a light breakfast and headed off to Barstow.  I wanted to cover the last remaining portion of Route 66. 

When I started out, it was overcast.  As I drove to the hills sheltering LA, I even ran into a few showers.  The clouds quickly melted away as I came off the hills and onto the desert.  It was even warm. 

I started by taking some pictures of old buildings in Barstow before slowly heading back down 66 towards LA.  While in Barstow I was followed around the corner by a chap who used to live in Albany, New York.  He had at first noticed my New York license plate and then the frame which indicated to us from Albany.  We had a nice chat.  He is a professional comedian who is trying to make it into the big time.  

The road that was Route 66 was mostly empty of traffic.  I got some pictures of empty road that at one time used to be bumper-to-bumper.  I had a little bit of excitement when I pulled over to take a picture of a sign along the road.  The shoulder was a much softer than I expected and I nearly got stuck in the soft sand.  I was able to back out of it without having to call a tow truck. 

In Victorville I stopped at the Route 66 Museum and spent an enjoyable period of time there.  It deserved more time than I spent there.  While there a couple tourists from Europe dropped by. 

Onward and upward as I was now climbing up to Cajon Pass.  I stop there for a nice lunch at the Summit Inn.  While there I ran into a young couple from Switzerland were touring the Southwest and wanted to do portions of Route 66.  I dragged out my EZ Guide to assist them in their planning.  They noted that if they drive through Victorville, they can pick up the second edition of the EZ Guide at the museum.  I then continued down the other side of the pass checking out a few the broken segments that used to be Route 66.  One short segment leads to a monument to the Mormon settlers who cross the mountains. 

I eventually entered San Bernardino from the east and slowly drove the segments of I hadn’t covered earlier.  It had been a long day so I hopped on the interstate and headed back to Kim and Susan’s.

Kith & kin

June 21, 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009.  It was a beautiful day for a drive.  It was mostly sunny and warm.  I headed down I-15 to San Diego to pay a visit to my cousin Joan and Curtis, her husband.  The drive went fairly quickly, though there were occasional spots of traffic. 

Joe and I chatted briefly before we headed over to pick up Curtis and find a place to eat.  We found a place not too far for the beach which specialized in, of all things, fish.  The fish was good and the chance to chat with Joan and Curtis even better.  All too soon we had a drop Curtis off back in his office, he had a 2 p.m. appointment, and Joan and I to their home with a few detours. 

The drive back was at the beginning of the rush-hour and traffic along I-15 was quite a bit heavier.  I got back and decided a dinner of ice cream would be just fine.

Tasty Mongols!

June 21, 2009

Thursday, 11 June 2009.  Today started out much the same as the day before.  It was cloudy and cool but still a lovely day.  However, things would be happening later that day. 

About 5:30 Gary Lee picked up three of us and we headed over to Caesar’s Mongolian BBQ for a meeting of the Tasty Mongols’ Horde.  Joining us there were Laura and Harry Turtledove, Jenny and Craig Miller, Kate, Bob and Miriam Wadey, Heather Ryan and Lin Daniel.  Good food, fine company and excellent conversation.  A most enjoyable evening!