Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I am now living in California (by way of West Palm, FL, Baltimore MD, and then Florida again.) The long ride out here to California had its adventures. In fact, they started before I ever left home, when I found out the car I'd been driving for a year and a half had a broken bolt in the timing belt as well as other belts that had been stripped and couldn't be taken off. This car was supposedly a VW "certified" car.
Considering I had had other problems with it that were supposed to have been covered under the certification, I'll believe in a certified car again when I see pink donkeys flying. And let's face it, one doesn't want to face a cross-country car ride with a car of a questionable history. So, I got a new car...and left VW behind. The new car is a Honda Fit....basically looks like the old Honda Civic Hatchbacks!! Very nice little car, great gas mileage, fun to drive, nice stereo system, and best of all, it's brand spanking new!! 2007 model and it had 5 miles on it when I got it! My friend Vicki had flown down from Baltimore to drive with me. After a few days (almost a week..) delay (getting the new car and all...) we loaded up all my crap, my cat Penelope, Vicki's bags and hit the road!!
Day 1: We drove and drove and drove....made it from mom's to somewhere around Hammond, LA!! Not much to see on that ride, lots of trees and foliage. I believe we were in Florida for nearly 9 hours (up the peninsula and along the panhandle...) It's like a bad dream in which you drive and drive and drive, and yet, you never get anywhere!
Day 2: I got us out of Florida, Vicki got us into Texas. I almost cried when I saw the first mile sign in Texas: Mile 848. (And we'd already been in Texas for a little bit, this was just the first sign I happened to see!!) Holy freaking miles!! I knew Texas was big, but dang!! Until that mile sign shows just how big...
Anyways, our goal for that day was to get to Austin. Vicki deftly maneuvered us through the roads of Texas, through the Houston traffic and construction, and then up and down Austin as we looked for a place to sleep that night. We eventually found a nice little place that accepted pets without a problem. We relaxed for a bit and then headed to 6th. We decided to eat at this Cuban restaurant on 6th called Habana (imagine that!). So we strolled down 6th sort of making notes of where we would head after dinner. Well, dinner was awesome! The food, atmosphere, our waiter Roberto...it was all rather enchanting. The yucca frita as appetizers, oh yeah! So, if you happen to ever be in Austin and want some Cuban chow, that is the place to go. Afterwards, we strolled, much more slowly, to the car, stopping along the way to visit some shops and take things in, and headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
Day 3: More driving down endless highways! Penelope (remember the cat?) is catching on to the fact that each morning, she gets put into her carrier, then the car and is pretty much stuck in there until at least evening. She let us know her extreme displeasure at the indignity of it all for...oh, about two hours this morning. Besides having to listen to her, the first part of the trip (290 West out of Austin), was quite lovely. (To show my total ignorance of Texas) I was amazed by how pretty it is out there. Rolling hills, trees, actual landscape and scenery. Then, as we got back on 10West, that slowly changed to what I had originally expected: dry, dusty, long road ahead and not much else. We got to New Mexico late afternoon and actually had time to find a place to stay and then go visit White Sands National Monument before it got dark. That was pretty cool--a desert park with white gypsum sand. There were people out there, having picnics, playing in the sand as if they were at the beach, or just hanging out.
Day 4: Drove through New Mexico, Arizona, and into Eastern California. What can I say about that except that if I ever have to drive through the desert again in summer, I probably won't (although I did see my beloved Saguaro cacti with blooms on them!!) The high desert really does suck the juice out of you. Even though we had water and were in the car with the AC on, it didn't matter. Every time we stopped and actually got out of the car, we felt drained. We were at 5000ft above sea level with over 100F temps. Yeah, don't want to do that again!!
But on to California and Joshua Tree National Park where we found a place to stay in 29 Palms. Penelope (remember the cat?) explores the room and then heads straight under the bed where she can hide...just to make sure I don't stuff her back into the carrier and back on the road. Vicki and I head out to dinner...a little Mexican place where the one margarita we each had just got better with each sip. Another new experience for me: a desert wind storm. After dinner, as we headed back to the car, this hot wind starts gusting and whipping around smaller unattached things like some loose newspapers and discarded candy wrappers and...sand. Nothing like getting sand blasted while trying to get into the car.
Day 5: miniscule!! Yes, truly amazing.
After Joshua Tree, we headed towards LA. Good timing...no rush hour traffic, although we did see a nasty accident. We got to Carpinteria in the early afternoon. Penelope(remember the cat?) made herself at home right away, sniffing everything and proceeding to sprawl in the middle of all the boxes that were everywhere. Vicki and I? We went shopping!!! Costco and Kmart. I can't even remember what we had for dinner, all I know is that we were exhausted!! I had the foam mattress and Vicki had the airbed. It was good.
So, there it is..5 days on the road and the beginning of a new experience.