"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mid-Week Summary

We left Tucson early Monday morning with intentions of an easy drive to Blythe, just over the AZ border in California.  Our plan was to leisurely travel north through California and Oregon and then be in Washington state next Monday.  Blythe seemed too easy so we ventured several hours further to a KOA in north LA.  Nice campground but it became very noisy at six on Tuesday morning when we began hearing car horns in the early rush hours.  I had been up since 1:30; one of those freakish nights when my eyes pop open and refuse to close again.  The boys were up early as well and decided to play outside a bit before hitting the road.  They found this little guy:

We thought we would be smart and hit the LA traffic at 7:30.  Perfect timing on our part as it gave us the chance to really see northeast LA.  At about 5 miles an hour, stop and go.  Not really so smart!  I've never warmed to southern California and was more than surprised at the snow covered mountains and emerald green hills that greeted us as we drove north through the San Joaquin valley.  It reminded both Donald and me of Scotland.  The scenery only needed stone fences and a few picturesque pubs to complete the memory.

Sometime in the last few hundred hours of driving I shared with my family about how I used to look through my mother's garden catalogues and long for a Bonsai tree.  I'm sure my fascination with them began after seeing the original Karate Kid because there is a scene where Mr. Miyagi lovingly tends his Bonsai.  I never even told my mom about wanting a Bonsai because I knew they were expensive.  Donald recalled the story when he saw a road side sign for Bonsai and before I could say "harigato" he whipped the RV off the road and insisted I choose my first Bonsai.  I tried to convince him it wasn't necessary but I was actually pretty excited and held it on my lap the rest of the way to San Francisco.
A really horrible picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken through the back window of the pickup

We arrived in San Fran last night about five and we dashed through setting up house so we could go check out the city.  I have been cooking from Cindy Pawlcyn's Fog City Diner cookbook for years and knew that's where I wanted to eat.  It did not disappoint.  In fact, it may have been one of the finer meals of my life.  Honestly.  It was a complete gastronomic delight:  crispy cheese biscuits spread with an unforgettable rosemary infused brown butter, perfectly grilled pork T-Bone, black pepper apples and crispy spaetzle with spinach.  Donald had an excellent rib eye with parmesan fries and the boys declared their clam chowder "the bomb."  It was a thin cream broth with nice chunks of vegetables and salty, meaty clams still in their shells.  We over indulged with butterscotch creme brulee and amaretto bread pudding covered in a rum sauce.  #1 and I shared the creme brulee but full as I was, I could have eaten every bite myself and still licked the ramekin!
By the time we waddled out of FCD it was nearly 8 pm so we did a walking/driving tour of the City at night.  We gazed out upon Alcatraz, a somber dwelling indeed!  We drove up and down streets so steep it made me glad I didn't learn to drive a stick in San Francisco.  We ambled through Ghiradelli Square and smelled the delicately sweet chocolate scent lingering on the evening spring air.  We wanted to take a cable car but they were, sadly, closed down for the night.  And I became aware of something interesting about myself that I suspect may be true of others who have addictively read since birth.  Many of the books I grew up reading took place in a time long before my own.  I'm also an avid re-reader so my mind's pictures stick pretty firmly.  When I finally get to see a place I read about long ago my mind expects it to look as it did in the story, which could be in 1817 or 1955.  That said, I can assure you that San Francisco no longer looks the way Dashiell Hammet described it to me in The Maltese Falcon, more the pity!  It is still an astonishingly gorgeous city and I must come back when I have more time to get under its skin.

Can you smell it?
By the time we tucked ourselves into bed last night I had been awake nearly 24 hours so we allowed ourselves the luxury of sleeping in.  Easier said than done.  I slept until almost 6:30 am.  What is wrong with me?  Even in college I never slept later than 10 in the morning.  We thought we had a short five hour drive today up the old Redwood highway and we were looking forward to sleeping in the shadows of the oldest and largest trees in the world.  But, as we have seen so many times on the Big Adventure, our route is often determined by external circumstances.  After driving three hours at top speeds of 40 mph due to mountainous conditions and multiple bakery and ice cream stops we found out that that the old Redwood Highway had just closed for possibly several weeks due to mudslides.  Our only choice was to backtrack more than an hour with the intention taking an alternate northern route.  Because we had a late start this morning it was nearly two in the afternoon when we got the encouraging word about the road closure.  Since there was nothing we could do but turn around, we did.  It gave us the opportunity to stop at the World Famous One Log House and Confusion Hill, one of nine gravitational anomalies in the US.  The One Log House is slightly smaller than our RV but without the cool amenities and Confusion Hill made me feel slightly nauseated even though it was crazy to roll a golf ball uphill!

Kitchen, two beds and just beyond the boys is a small living room, all in kitschy 1950's decor
Walking on walls in the anti gravity house

Twin Tower Memorial Redwoods

Each date corresponds to a ring of the tree, dating back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066!

This Redwood is 1200 years old!
Wherever we get to tomorrow will be just as much a surprise to us as to you.  If, miraculously, the road is clear we will retrace our steps again.  Otherwise we head east and then north on I-5 which goes all the way to Canada.  We are on a much faster pace than anticipated.  Donald, for reasons he can't explain, is not a huge fan of California and is in quite a hurry to keep going.  This caused some marital friction as we originally intended to stay in San Francisco several days but also gives me reason to go back, I guess.  He did buy me a Bonsai so I can't complain too much!


  1. My favorite line: "Blythe seemed too easy" (from Blythe)

  2. Piffle - it's all those books we read in college. You know which ones! Sorry about that but it is pretty funny!!!