Sunday, October 21, 2001

2001 West Coast Road Trip, Part One

Today is October 21, 2001. I am living in Los Angeles, California. Three weeks ago today, I left home (Renton) on my driving journey here.

The first day, Sunday, went fast. Leaving home about 11 am, I made it to Portland in two hours and less than half a tank (I love my Saturn!), and prompty got lost, wanting to find some good shopping. Go figure, serves me right, I suppose. Because I'm stubborn, I just kept going, ending up on freeways going who knows where, and getting very desperately lost. Took some random turns and ended up in a lovely green area. Reed College was on one side of the street, and the Rhododendron Garden was on the other. So I parked and finally got out of the car. It was warm! I was pleasantly surprised. I spent awhile there, looking at my atlas and trying to figure out my itinerary, then I just read for a bit. It was lovely there. From Portland I found 99W, which wound through little towns and forests, linking with 18, which met up with Highway 101. At that junction is Lincoln City, a beautiful, if touristy, ocean town. I was thrilled to see the open Pacific Ocean; I can't remember the last time I did. So I parked again and frolicked in the sand and the freezing water. I didn't find a place to eat so I started driving down the coast. I got pretty far; around 7.30 I decided to stop, in Florence, Oregon. Chose a random motel, which was equipped lovingly with cable-woohoo!

Monday morning--got up around 10 or so, watched tv (I couldn't help myself, I so love cable), left again about 11ish. The drive was pretty gnarly, if you will. The coast highway is really the coast highway. It winds around the mountains and rocky bits just in from the ocean. The trees and brush grow in a wind-whipped shape. The roads wind back and forth in near U-turns. Lovely views, viewpoints everywhere. Something I found reassuring was the fact that nearly the entire coast is made up of various state parks. Good for Oregon. Seriously, I very much enjoyed being inn Oregon, it was beautiful. Successfully made it through the rest of Oregon and into California, which I found exciting. Soon came upon the Redwoods and more state parks. Perhaps I'm jaded, but the damn trees weren't that big! They seemed like any other group of trees I've seen. For instance, the ones on the hike to Fragrance Lake. These ones did seem to have bigger circumferences, though, I'll give them that. Along the road were various attractions, like the one-log house. This consisted of one huge log, hollowed out and sitting on its side, made into a caboose-looking house. Went by another house, this one actually in the tree, like the Berenstein Bears. That was cool. Decided to try to make it as far as I could, but then I started getting sleepy and the way was getting pretty isolated and few other cars were on the road. Kinda creepy. So I stopped finally in a town of approximately 130. Lafayetteville or something like that. The motel I chose was cute, and it had HBO, but only two other channels. Waah-I want my cable tv! Aren't I a spoiled brat? :)

Tuesday--actually got up early and got going at a good hour. I think I left around 9 or 9.30 or something. Drove through wine country, it was very pretty. I was excited to see the Golden Gate Bridge, nearing San Francisco! It was so cool! I've only been there once, when I was like ten or something. My dad and brother and I had a taxi ride straight out of the movies, flying over hills and all. That and the Fisherman's Wharf is about all I remember. So anyway, it was thrilling to get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, and even thrilling to pay the three dollar toll. Woohoo-three cheers for Seattle's non-toll bridges, traffic-plagued though they are! I headed on through downtown S.F., still on the 101, which was very cool. The city has a neat vibe to it, I enjoyed seeing it. The traffic sucked. But traffic everywhere sucks. Or at least in the big cities. I was heading to San Jose to meet Mom at her hotel, and the signs on the freeway declared it 101, to San Jose. But it never said where exactly San Jose was; I kept expecting it to be just around the corner. But there were no mile-marker signs to be seen, so I got off the freeway to find a gas station. There was one right off the offramp, but my luck continuing, it was closed down for construction. So I kept going down the road and entered residential-land, so I turned around. Then there was something weird with the gas pump when I did find a station, and whatever, blah. Finally made it to San Jose, but could not for the life of me figure out where the exit was! There simply wasn't one! So after I noticed the freeway surrounded by desert, nonpopulated places, I somehow got off the freeway and went the other way north, then found another freeway to explore, and, miraculously, found the right exit and successfully arrived at the hotel. Triumphant, I got out of the car, sweaty and hungry. In the lobby I called Mom's cell phone. There was no answer, which I found odd, and then I was looking abstractedly around and saw Mom walk right past me. That worked out well. We had drinks out by the pool and read. Mom set up her meeting stuff and I drove down the freeway a bit to the nearby shopping center. I found a really cute shirt, a pink-type one, since I haven't bought a new pink garment lately. I was craving to buy books, so I wandered around the mall and examined the directories in dismayed disbelief--a million square feet of mall and NOT ONE BOOKSTORE! What the hell were they thinking? Don't people in San Jose read, for crying out loud? Goodness. So then I had to get back in the car and explore, looking for a bookstore. I found one, but,being me, I was on the wrong side of the road so it took me approximately fifteen minutes getting turned around and arriving at a Barnes & Noble. Quickly found two books to buy, and headed back to the hotel for the season premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Wednesday--left way late, about 12.30. It was fun to hang out with Mom and be in a real hotel with big, nonsqueaky beds, cable, yummy-smelling shampoo samples and good water pressure. Woohoo! Drove pretty much straight through, I think, deciding to stay on 101 rather than detour again on the 1, to go faster and stuff. Oh, wait, I did stop for awhile, when I came upon the Hearst Museum. I got out and stretched my legs (and my poor sore bum!), got some expensive nachos, and admired the surroundings. Gotta love what oodles of money can build for you, eh? So then I got back in the car and headed into the maze of the Los Angeles freeway system. Arrived at Kelleigh's around 8.30, promptly getting lost in the housing complex. Sigh.

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