March 04, 2004

California Trip- The Novel

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

No wait, how about...

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, I guess that's been used, too.

OK, well how about I just start like this: Yay California!

It was a fun-filled, non-stop, laugh-riot, exciting-yet-exhausting week, and I won't trade it for anything in the world. I had a chance to see some really cool things, went to some really interesting places, and met up with some really nice people.

NOTE: This is a babble filled, extremely long post. If you feel like skipping the wrap up and heading right for the pictures, a link can be found at the end of this entry. I divided them into two catagories for your viewing pleasure: pictures and self portraits. Also, to help assist visually with our travel route, I have provided a map, also located at the end of this post. Clicking on the map will provide a better view of the secondary roads and stops.

Day 1: Leaving Seattle (2/24)
I went a very long time without getting sick, so of course I caught a cold the day before leaving. It wasn't too bad, though, just the common cold, but still unfortunate timing. Lucky for Karen, she felt much better after suffering the same thing, so it wasn't too bad for us. Anyway, because of my lack-of-motivation-due-to-illness, I didn't crawl out of bed as early as I'd hoped, so we got off to a late start. By the time we ran our errands, got our coffee, packed our clothes, and said good-bye to the cat, it was about 4:00 p.m. This was a slight delay from our predicted departure time of 'no later than 10:00 a.m.' I guess we should have known better. Anyway, we drove through Washington down I-5, and quickly made our way through scary, desolate Oregon, making it into Yreka, California, late Tuesday night. The hotel was a bit frightening, so we left the TV on all night so Karen wouldn't be scared. Unfortunately, it was on Cartoon Network, so I was pretty much watching it until the next morning. Also, interesting fact about Oregon- it is illegal to pump your own gas. I found this out when attempting to pump my own gas.
Total Driving Time: approx. 8 hours.

Day 2: Yreka to Calistoga (2/25)
Much like day one, this was a fairly easy ride- that is, until we headed off the main highway. The secondary roads were wonderfully scenic for awhile, but instantly turned into a nauseating roller coaster ride up and down the mountains. Furthermore, people in California DO NOT know how to drive, so not only were the roads bad, but the drivers were highly annoying. We thought all this was bad at the time, but little did we know what was in store for us.

We made it to Calistoga and the Golden Haven Spa about a half hour before our mud bath appointment. I was worried I might not seem so masculine and macho (heh heh heh) after admitting to a mud bath, but after having done it, I don't care. It was one of the most relaxing things I have ever done, and I highly recommend it. To give you an idea, after the mud bath we got a mineral water jacuzzi, followed by a towel wrap. During the towel wrap, we each get our own bed and are, as you can assume, wraped in towels. It was during this process that I fell into one of the deepest sleeps I had ever had, and it only lasted about 20 minutes. It was wonderful. Anyway, after all that, we got some food, took a dip in the pool and hot tub, and headed back to our room where we had our own sauna. Needless to say, I slept very, very well that night.
Total Driving Time: approx. 5 hours.

Day 3: Calistoga to San Francisco (2/26)
This ride was much more relaxed, and only a short ride compared to previous days. Denny's had officially become a theme at this point, so we stopped for breakfast and calmly made our way into the city. We planned for a quiet evening, simply because Survivor and the Apprentice were on. (That's right, nothing stops our addiction to reality TV). However, we were pleasantly surprised that our friend Aron was able to come visit that night, so we had a nice time catching up with him, watching TV, and indulging in room service. Ah, it was wonderful.
Total Driving Time approx. 1 1/2 hours.

Day 4-6: San Francisco (2/27 - 2/29)
San Francisco was awesome. We got a chance to see a lot of the city, partly because Karen has a friend Trina on one side of the city whom we met for dinner Friday evening, but mostly because we spent all of Saturday with Aron, the greatest tourguide ever, on the other side of the city. Aron, Karen, and myself happened to come across a pier in Fisherman's Wharf offering a $10.00 boat tour of the bay area, so we all jumped on it. It took us along the shore of the bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz, and back to the dock. The sun was shining, the weather was fairly warm, and it was a great way to see the city. After that, Aron gave us the grand tour of his office building, and the area where he works right in downtown San Francisco. It was really great to see him, and Karen and I were both overwhelmed by his accomplishments.

On Sunday, Karen and I did our last bit of sightseeing, as we drove down Lombard Street (the curviest street in the world), took a walk on Baker Beach, and galloped through Golden Gate Park. I have to say, when I first arrived in Seattle, I thought it was pretty hilly. After visiting San Francisco, however, Seattle is as flat as the midwest. Karen pointed out that some of the sidewalks are so vertical, they had to make them into stairs. It was pretty ridiculous.

All in all, it was a well spent afternoon, but nothing could prepare us for the horrible road that lay ahead...
Total Driving Time: approx. 1 hour

Evening of Day 6: San Francisco to Fort Bragg (2/29)
The thought of driving along the 'coastal route' is so enlightening in my mind. I had envisioned a road that follows the ocean in a straight line, viewing the rocks and the waves, and looking over the crystal clear ocean while the sun shines behind you and all your troubles float away.

Guess what, I was wrong.

Sure, we got a view of the water every so often, but for the most part, Coastal Route 1 is much like an amusement park ride... namely, the tea cups. The road is so curvy, so twisty, so frustrating in it's inability to form a straight line, that you have no choice but to feel ill from the motion of the car. To make matters worse, we left San Francisco late in the day, and figured Fort Bragg was only a 2 hour drive away, which would allow for maximum sunlight on our journey... boy were we wrong.

To drive 44 miles, it took us over 2 hours. We came to a quick realization that if we ever wanted to make it to Fort Bragg for the night, we needed to get back on a main highway. Luckily, we were able to find an access road from the coastal route inland to Route 101 at Santa Rosa, which allowed us to make up serious time. We then thought we were home free, until we got on our secondary route back to the coast, which was the same type of curvy road, in the middle of nowhere, in the the pitch black of night. It was at this time when Karen and I experienced insanity. We literally went crazy, laughing at non-funny things, speaking of weird, horrible imagry, and basically putting oursleves on the brink of self-destruction. Finally (and not a minute too soon) we made it to Fort Bragg, and went to Denny's.
Total Driving Time: approx. 5 hours

Day 7: Fort Bragg, CA to Ashland, OR (3/1)
By this time we realized the ride would not be fun, so I, for one, was not looking forward to the drive. After a nice breakfast at Denny's, we set out again along Route 1. It was at this time that I realized what we had been missing- Daylight! The ride on this day was fantastic; it still involved winding roads and horrible driving, but with the sun came a view. But even still, the coast was not as predominant as I had hoped. It seemed that we'd drive along the water for 5 minutes, only to venture into the woods for an hour. It was a nice drive, though, and we caught some great views. Luckily, the road opened up into more of a freeway a few hours into the ride as well, so we got to drive a bit faster than 20 MPH.

Actually, I guess my emotions got the best of me, because I got pulled over by CHiP (like the tv show, California Highway Patrol) for going a good amount over 20 MPH. I have to admit, though, the officer was so nice to us, but rather than risk my own luck, or the credibility of this fine gentlemen, I won't go into detail.... though I will say that he gave me a huge break. There will probably be a small fine involved, but that should be it (and don't worry mom and dad, I can easily wipe it off my record, according to the nice officer, so the car insurance won't be affected).

Anyway, the road eventually turned back into a less populated street again (we became used to this) so we were forced to slow down up near Oregon. As usual, it was getting late, plus we needed to settle in before 10:00 p.m. as the Average Joe 2 finale was that night. We were planning to back track a bit to Ashland, Oregon (about 45 minutes south of where we joined Route 5 again) to meet Karen's friend Jerry. However, since Average Joe was in jeopardy, we decided to stop in Grants Pass, and head to Ashland the next morning.
Total Driving Time: approx. 6 1/2 hours

Day 8: Grants Pass to Ashland to Seattle
We made it to our last day, and we were both getting pretty tired. Luckily, we had a chance to relax for lunch about 30 miles south of where we stopped for the night, and visited with Karen's friend Jerry. It was here that Karen ordered a piece of cake the size of my head. It was so impressive, in fact, that I just took the last bite of it moments ago, now almost 36 hours later. But cake aside, we took off at around 3, stopped at Denny's for a late dinner at around 10, and made it back home to Seattle at around 11 p.m.
Total Driving Time: approx. 7 hours.

All in all it was an excellent trip. The driving became arduous, the food was very fattening, and the money seemed to disappear, but it was all so worth it. And, if you made it through that horribly long entry, you can now click the link below to view the many pictures taken on our trip. Most of them are explained, either in my ramblings here, or in a small description under the picture. Also, check out the road map below of our journey, so you know what roads not to take if you ever happen to duplicate our trip.


**Click here for the Pictures gallery**

**Click here for our Self Portrait gallery**

Map Legend
*The Blue line is our route to San Francisco.
**The Green line is our return route.
***The red dots are stopping points.

(Click the map to zoom)

Vacation Route.bmp

Posted by jed at March 4, 2004 11:29 AM

And you - who never,ever, ever liked to go on a tour of anything whatsoever!!!!!!!

Posted by: Mom at March 5, 2004 01:00 PM

If a man were to say he chose something impossible he would be thought a fool; but we can wish for things that are impossible, for instance immortality.

Posted by: free online poker at September 21, 2004 04:41 AM
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