Tag Archives: california

Great Western Road Trip, Day 18

Current Location: Reno, Nevada

Today’s Song: Kathleen Edwards – Goodnight California

This is such a great song that sets up a nice groove. This is another case where the emphasis is less on the song lyrics and more evocative of the feeling of driving through the Central Valley and up into the Sierra Nevadas.

I started the day in Manteca, California, heading out north on California 99 to Carson Pass Highway. It’s a good hour just to get to the mountains, but the loom ahead of you the entire time and provide a lovely backdrop and contrast to the flat farmlands all around you.

Then it was into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and wow, that is just spectacular. The road goes up, up, up from the valley to Carson Pass.

The geology of the area is quite unique, as my friend Neowolf pointed out. It provided a nice place to take a break and enjoy the view.

There are some interesting-looking resorts up there, and I am sure that the skiing is pretty impressive as well…providing you can get to the resorts. I saw a lot of “Chains Required” signs waiting to be used and Ford mentioned that the drive can get quite exciting, what with the avalanche risk and all.

After the hours of mountain driving, it was time for a stop in South Lake Tahoe for lunch and an opportunity to enjoy the local brews.

The trip out of the mountains from there was surprisingly quick, though the views were quite impressive descending down the eastward slopes.

I checked into my hotel in Reno (a Hyatt Place, the first of a long line of Hyatts this week – all free! ????). On my friend Rifka’s advice, I sought out one of the local breweries before dinner to check out their offerings. They were all quite good!

Then it was off to meet Tyco and a bunch of other staff from Biggest Little Fur Con, a convention that started just a few years ago here and quickly blew up into 5,000 or more attendees.

Dinner was lovely and the opportunity to chat with these good folks was welcome. They’re a damn smart bunch, and the convention has a good organization behind it. After dinner Tyco was kind enough to provide a tour of the Grand Sierra Resort’s convention facilities with some background on how the space is used and the convention’s relationship with the hotel. After seeing all of this I am not remotely surprised the convention has grown as quickly as it has. The GSR is an ideal venue for a furry convention! I definitely hope to attend next year.

Tomorrow it’s back on the road for the long drive to Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a part of the country I have never seen before so I look forward to seeing some new terrain.

Miles Driven Today: 215 miles

Time Driving Today: 5:11

Total Miles Driven: 3,029 miles

Total Time Driving: 68:16

Great Western Road Trip, Day 17

Current Location: Manteca, California

Today’s Song: Kate Wolf – Pacheco/Red-Tailed Hawk

An iconic California song for me, originally by Robin Williamson. Although I didn’t go through Pacheco Pass I did go over the Diablo Range, the same set of mountains, as I headed east out of the San Francisco Bay Area. This to me is summer in California:

Purple clouds turn scarlet in the setting sun
Where sagebrush turns to alive oak and the white tail run
The air is cool as music when the day is gone
And God paints the sky above Pacheco

This morning had me getting up bright and early to hit the road. I was pleased that I was able to find a nearby location of one of my favorite coffee places in the area, Philz Coffee.

I made it to Chris (Didge) and Brian (Baja)’s place a little before 9 AM. The temperature was already in the upper 80s on its way to a high for the day of 107 F. We quickly packed everything up and started the long drive to our destination for the day, Yosemite National Park. It took three hours each way, but it was very much worth it! (Also, it was about 25 degrees cooler!)

Our first stop was at Bridalveil Falls, where I got some hint of just how crowded the park would be as it took about 10 minutes to find a parking space.

Still, it was worth it to get a chance to clamber up the rocks and stand in the fine mist of the falls.

The views all around were simply stunning – the park was definitely everything that I have heard it was. We parked the car where we could and walked over to Yosemite Falls, where we enjoyed the spectacular views and got up-close and personal with the local wildlife.

Chris and Brian were wonderful travel companions, and we had a great time walking around the park!

On the way back we stopped at a Mexican restaurant near their house with a bizarre Christmas-themed menu (“We think they bought it a few years ago and never figured out how to change it.”) but delicious food and a great salsa bar. After that it was back to the house where we watched the last part of Kung Fu Hustle and all of Doctor Strange. The latter was a pretty good movie, but I learned that ambulance and hospital scenes still cause me intense discomfort, and the scene of someone dying on the operating table reduced me to tears. The scars run deep, unfortunately.

No mileage today since Chris was kind enough to drive us in his SUV and I was content to be a passenger. It was nice to see a good bit of country and not have to drive! Day 18 will take me even further east, up and over the Sierra Nevada mountains to Reno, Nevada.

Miles Driven Today: 0 miles

Time Driving Today: 0:00

Total Miles Driven: 2,814 miles

Total Time Driving: 63:05

Great Western Road Trip, Day 16

Current Location: Sunnyvale, California

Today’s Song: Eastmountainsouth – You Dance

Another day of not doing much, and that’s OK. It was a lovely, lazy day that was simply perfect.  I hung out at Ford’s all morning, getting an excellent therapeutic massage from River Pup. He is truly outstanding, for all that he is still in school. If you are in the Bay Area, I can highly recommend him – he’s damn good, and a heck of a nice guy. Funny thing: we actually hung out together at Mephit Furmeet in 2000 or so 🙂

Lunch was a wonderful get-together with Brophey, Karwood, Partran, and Luagha. it was so great to see these guys again!

The afternoon was spent cooking (well, Ford was cooking, I was assisting and providing company!). Dinner was a delicious pork tenderloin Wellington, roasted Brussels sprouts, and blueberry pie. After that a low-key evening of sitting around chatting in the cool breeze out by the pool. I needed this time, and I needed time with wonderfully dear friends. I’m sad I have to leave Ford and Sunnyvale, but the trip must continue. This trip has been a reminder of the incredible number of close friends I am blessed with, and all of the places that I need to revisit again soon.

Next up: the Central Valley doubling as the fifth circle of hell, and Yosemite National Park!

Miles Driven Today: 0 miles

Time Driving Today: 0:00

Total Miles Driven: 2,814 miles

Total Time Driving: 63:05

Great Western Road Trip, Day 15

Current Location: Sunnyvale, California

Today’s Song: Dougie MacLean – Restless Fool

The lyrics to this song aren’t particularly relavent, but the general mood matches mine perfectly these days. Plus, Dougie MacLean is an excellent musician.

On Day 15, I rested. I spent the day mostly hanging out by the backyard pool with Ford and catching up. It was, quite frankly, delightful and one of the highlights of the trip.

In the evening, we met up with Latte, Dax, Smackjackal, Shyhoof, and Izzy for dinner at SoFA Market in San Jose, California. It was wonderful to catch up with these folks and enjoy a delicious spicy tune poke bowl.

After dinner we wandered over to Haberdasher for some craft cocktails. All in all it was a wonderful day!

Miles Driven Today: 0 miles

Time Driving Today: 0:00

Total Miles Driven: 2,814 miles

Total Time Driving: 63:05

Great Western Road Trip, Day 14

Current Location: Sunnyvale, California

Today’s Song: Bruce Cockburn – Train in the Rain

This is a great traveling song, and one that makes me think of making steady progress down the road, which is what yesterday was all about. Incidentally, my friend Five-Toed Sloth Bear is collecting these songs as they are posted into a Spotify playlist:

(Also, there is an Apple Music playlist available as well.)

I started the day in cold, gray Crescent City, California. Breakfast was a tasty ham, Swiss, and egg sandwich.

This was a good start but the coffee was kind of weak. It got me through to Arcata, California, which is a highly entertaining town. I first heard of Arcata from graduates of Humboldt State University there, and it did not disappoint. It is pretty much the epitome of the Northern California hippie town, but I liked the vibe. I first stopped by a coffee house that was entertaing primarily because the (tattooed, pierced, and awesomely friendly) barista identified the artist and vendor of my current favorite T-shirt that I was wearing. I adjourned across the street for what was supposed to be a light snack, but it was great anyway.

It was a straight shot down to San Francisco from there, where I got to experience the fun of rush hour traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Getting through downtown San Francisco at rush hour was everything I expected it to be, but 2 hours later I made it to Ford’s place in Sunnyvale. After chatting for a bit we swung over to his boyfriend Bramble’s and picked up him and his roommate Umbral and went out for a wonderful sushi dinner.

Today will be a pretty relaxing day, hanging out at Ford’s then meeting up with friends for dinner. Having a couple of days off the road is going to be a wonderful thing!

Miles Driven Today: 395 miles

Time Driving Today: 8:15

Total Miles Driven: 2,814 miles

Total Time Driving: 63:05

Great Western Road Trip, Day 13

Current Location: Crescent City, CA

Today’s Song: Colin Hay – I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You

Portland, Oregon was such a wonderful town I hated to leave it, but the road trip must go on! And so I jumped in the car bright and early, hit the road, and…sat in traffic.

Portland is connected to Vancouver, Washington (a large suburb) and many other suburbs by only two bridges, Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. The next closest bridges over the Columbia River are an hour in either direction. This produces traffic chaos like clockwork, unfortunately (and that doesn’t even take into account that I-5 is also an active drawbridge!).

After a pit stop in Salem, Oregon, for gas and a small bite for breakfast (and coffee, of course), it was onward to the coast.

Well, almost. 5 minutes from the coast I stopped in the tiny town of Toledo, Oregon, for an early lunch. I didn’t realize the name of the place until I saw the sign on the door, but it seemed simply perfect for me! I ordered the “Working Man’s Breakfast” which was potatoes, onions, green peppers, and scrambled eggs, covered in sausage gravy. It tasted a lot better than it looked!

Then it was back on the road, and the Pacific Ocean quickly put in its appearance.

(The pedants of Twitter immediately chimed in with all of the locations in the US that are further west than where I was. I ignored them. Protip: If you are about to tweet something that could easily be prefaced with, “Well, actually…” delete it and sit on your hands until the urge to post passes.)

Then it was the long down the coast on US Highway 101, which will eventually carry me to San Francisco. I stopped at numerous beautiful locations along the way, including the spectacular Cape Perpetua, waaaaay up over the shoreline.

Oh, and there were other sights too!]

South of Florence, Oregon I decided it was time to make up some time so no more stops after that. I rolled in to The Lighthouse Inn in Crescent City, California, at a little after 7 PM. With stops, that was about 12 hours of travel and pretty exhausting! I decided to reward myself with a tasty dinner:

Then it was back to my hotel room, which despite its questionable design choices was clean, comfortable, and quiet. I’m glad I sleep with a white noise generator though because there was a lot of incidental noise from the hallway and upstairs.

I drove a lot in silence down the coast, doing some of that Deep Thinking I knew was part of this trip. I got pretty down because I kept thinking that, despite all of the hours in the car, Dan would have loved this trip – seeing old friends, visiting beautiful locations, and just experiencing the adventure of it all. His smile and laughter are with me always. I’ll need to think more about how how all of this makes me feel beyond “sad”, because it is of course it’s much more complex than that.

One good cry and a sound night’s sleep later, I am up and ready to hit the road. Today will take me down US 101 through Redwood Country and then to Sunnyvale, California, where I’m staying with my old friend Ford Shepherd. I’m looking forward to seeing him again!

Miles Driven Today: 384 miles

Time Driving Today: 8:52

Total Miles Driven: 2,419 miles

Total Time Driving: 54:50