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California Trip 2015

2015 May 6
by bgerman

California Trip 2015: in the land of the ants

Intro Notes from a six-week trip to California in March – April 2015. In the format of a diary with daily entries. Most of you will be bored to tears, however maybe you will know me and can picture how I’m adapting to circumstances on the fly. Please feel free to skip ahead at any time. If you don’t get out much, you can pretend it’s you doing this trip. Comments are welcome, via the box at the end or just email me directly. You might feel obligated to read this. Don’t be. Read the convenient summary at the almost end.

Day before I left Colorado

Saturday Mar 28 Day before leaving the Springs. Hiked Ute Valley Park in the AM, with Martha, Karen, Jeanne and Janet. Took all afternoon to do the final packing and loading the bike. Exhausted. Most packing was done in the two weeks preceding this trip. Bags, big plastic boxes all over my bedroom, usually tossed in a few more items every day until they were all full. (It’s a straightforward system used by traveling professionals worldwide) Part of my packing theory is based around being able to buy new stuff to replace whatever I forgot to bring. This is America where you are never far from a mall. Plus, you know, its ‘new stuff’, whom doesn’t like that?

Sunday Mar 29 310 miles to Grand Junction. In Frisco at the Best Western, I stopped for a restroom break. They had a whole basket full of sample candy and no one at the front desk, so I took more than one. A short day so I stopped several times at scenic rest stops and in Glenwood Springs where I walked around the outside of the mall, just to take a break from sitting in the car. Rest stop near Eagle, it was mostly truckers. Best Western in GJ has an excellent exercise room. Highlight of the day: scenery along 100+ miles of the Colorado River and of course Glenwood Canyon (missed Hanging Lake exit, maybe on the way back). I-70 is perfect to make good time AND see the spectacular mountains rising up from the river valley. The other highlight: stolen candy. No problems with towing the trailer or the motorcycle. 65 MPH is max recommended, coming down from Vail Pass I got up to 75 or so, coasting. Over Hoosier Pass, it had snowed, so was wet and got the bike completely dirty.

US 50 and I-70 through scenic Utah

Refueled in Palisades (near Grand Junction and home of the annual peach festival in the summer) I had never seen peach trees, that’s why I detoured. Fellow in the gas station who lived there answered my questions about blooming tree colors. I saw orchards for five miles, mostly red blooms, then some white and a few yellow. Thousands of trees. White were apples, you probably can guess the red and yellow. He worked in North Dakota, oil fields. Two weeks there, two weeks back in Palisades. He was putting 50 gallons in an auxiliary steel tank in his pickup. He says gas is $1.00 more in Wyoming/ S.D. He was 40 years old, the oilfield jobs in western Colorado dried up, now he ‘commutes’ to make a living. 950 miles one way – every two weeks.

Monday Mar 30 450 miles to Ely, Nevada. Colorado River turns southwest towards the Grand Canyon and southern California in Utah, no more driving through the canyon, just miles of desert with mesas, mountains and rocks. All day to cross the state of Utah. In my opinion, the most beautiful scenery in the U.S. Mile after mile of spectacular rock formations. I-70 just quits in the middle of Utah. US 50 carries on and turns into ‘The Loneliest Road in America – my favorite. Today on US 50, drove about 100 miles, no vehicles passed me going west, maybe three coming east. Leaving Delta, after driving approx 50 traffic free miles a sign says ‘Next services 40 miles.’ Is this where the word ‘deserted’ comes from? It is lonely.

Got to Ely, ready to load all 50+ of my daily photos to laptop. Deleted them all instead, stupidly. This means another California trip in 2016. Can’t take the same photos on the way back. I may go a different route through Salt Lake City and Wyoming.

 Pink granite cliffs. Yellow sandstone hills. Inverted cones that look like anthills. Hoodoos. Endless dwarf cedar forests. Sagebrush forever. Giant red boulders that have tumbled down from bluffs above. Exposed rock strata, some upheaved and called ‘Reefs’. Dust devils. The most beautiful desert you have ever seen – a geologists’ dream. Utah.

Utah ‘Reef’

How to keep Bill Clinton on a short leash? Rand Paul’s hair has to be real, why would he get a piece like that? What I learned on the political radio today. I’m waiting for someone to predict who (of the 17 contenders) gets the R nomination.

 The La Quinta in Ely was a good choice. Excellent exercise room, where the TV is tuned to the unending details about the German co-pilot who killed an airplane full of people by deliberately crashing it into a mountain.

 Tuesday Mar 31 320 miles to Carson City, Nevada. Easy day, got started early and arrived before 3PM. The Wyndham Garden Carson Station is acceptable, it has a casino and nice rooms, but it’s just old, no breakfast and no in-room fridge, probably won’t stay here again. The Casino is nice, but useless to me. I gave up gambling years ago when I figured out by looking around at the other players, that I must also appear to be a loser, just like them! (Sorry, all you folks who love the excitement of winning and losing. It is addictive, been to Vegas so many times I can’t remember. Craps WAS my game.) Just one of many bad habits I have quit, most of them really late in life. Smoking, drinking, chasing women. Wait, not that last one.

Loneliest Road begins in Austin, NV

Loneliest Road begins in Austin, NV

 Stopped in Austin, Nevada ( population 192) and the man behind the counter at the gas station/ store told me Austin was a silver mining boom town in the 1800’s and 10,000 people once lived there. That was from 1860 to 1880, when the silver ran out. Austin (named for Austin, Texas) is what’s called a living ghost town. Known for high quality turquoise jewelry, still mined nearby. Another guy (Ralph) in the store told me a story about his 1972 Honda 750. A friend of his with a Triumph 650 offered to switch rides – and Ralph still remembered his wobbly legs when he got off the ‘super-fast’ Triumph. He demonstrated the trembling for me. (Ralph had seen my Triumph and I heard him asking from the restroom whose it was )

 It was so windy the last 60 miles to Carson City that my Jeep’s nine speed transmission, normally in 8th on the highway downshifted to 6th on level terrain when a gust would hit. How windy was it? Huge dust storms with whirlwinds along the way wherever the ground was barren, which is quite often anywhere in Nevada. The salt flats created a towering white tempest that looked like fog from a distance. May have to get my Jeep’s sandblasted front end repainted, some of it wore off. OK, maybe it’s just all the bugs.

 Today’s radio was non-stop Indiana’s new law controversy. Discrimination or not? The NCAA final four basketball tourney in Indianapolis seems to be the lever that will make the state modify (or clarify as their Gov puts it) the law as written. He’s asking for action by the weekend, which is coincidentally when the tournament is scheduled. Firestorm from all directions, including Walmart. Boring for me after the first few hours of hand wringing and interviews for and against. Religious freedom is a wonderful topic if you want to get people riled up.

Shoe Tree US 50 in Nevada

Wednesday Apr 01 230 miles to Santa Rosa, California

Way too busy and exhausted to write anything. Highway 50 from Tahoe to Placerville was curvy and scenic. Maybe 40 MPH average, two-lane mostly. Then turns into interstate. Made it through the white-knuckle I-80 racetrack through Sacramento, and out into the beautiful countryside toward wine country. Made it to my ‘studio’ in a small, older (’60s houses) neighborhood in Southeast Santa Rosa and found the key, finally. It was a nice place, a converted garage at the rear of the property. Got moved in, then washed motorcycle and trailer (mag chloride from Hoosier Pass back in Colorado), did find the gym for a quick workout.

I think this was the day Indiana’s Gov ‘kind of’ admitted he is going to look at changing his new ‘religious freedom’ law.

 Thursday Apr 02 Got up early to see if I could find a better 24 Hour Fitness. I’m still on my quest to visit all 90+ California locations. Rohnert Park’s gym was only two years old, had all the latest equipment and in perfect condition. A huge improvement from the one in Santa Rosa, plus not crowded. (I had almost forgotten what a huge pain a late afternoon workout is!) There is a Panera right across the parking lot, so I can walk between the two. It is seven miles south, but almost all freeway.

24 Hour Fitness locations

24 Hour Fitness locations

When driving, I feel lost all the time, thank goodness for GPS. Now Arkansas is going to add something to their proposed law to protect everyone from discrimination. What an uproar, my how things have changed.

Friday Apr 03 Disconnected. That’s the way I feel. Everything is new and unfamiliar. It will get better, just need to establish a daily routine so my mind doesn’t have to work so hard. Probably that is exactly why I am exhausted every evening. Too much new info to process.

Meeting a R.E. broker tomorrow to look for ‘affordable’ housing. That should be fun.

Just passed a woman on the sidewalk with a jiggly head – when she walks, her head bobbles. I like that. Does she know she’s doing it?

Got out on the MC this afternoon. Just like last trip, I was concerned with traffic in a strange town. Same thing: soon as I get on machine, I’m fine and have a blast. Specially the power at sea level. Zoom.

Bad Condo!

Bad Condo!

Saturday Apr 04 Looking for small places in Rohnert Park. Tara the broker showed up, extremely attractive grandmother, 41 years old. Her motherhood started early. Talked about the reality of finding anything affordable in the Santa Rosa area, unless old and seedy. I had seen a ‘modern’ looking complex in Rohnert Park – she checked it on MLS – we went and poked around. The complex was perfect, fairly new, contemporary and the unit was only $210K. Why was it so inexpensive? No garage or carport, just a marked space in the parking court, ungated. The unit itself was very attractive, 2 BRs, 1 bath, open plan, exactly what I wanted, but access was stairs only to the third floor, then a completely open four foot wide walkway in front of all the third floor units. No recess for the front door, just a forlorn 2′ x 4′ cover, a sad approach and entry. Parking was the main problem, if I want to leave motorcycle here, have to get a separate storage unit. Plus of course, do I really need two houses 1,500 miles apart? Maybe just rent a place for a month like I’m doing now. Whole lot less expensive.

Good Bunny!

Here’s a strange coincidence. While looking inside the condo, me and the agent went into the master bedroom. There was a fuzzy toy on the floor next to the sliding glass door. ‘Cept it was a rabbit!!!!! I almost fainted and Tara didn’t believe me. It hopped under the bed. Then in the second bedroom, another bunny!!! Tomorrow is Easter. This is not made up. Two pet rabbits in a 800 sf condo on the third floor. We shudda looked for carrots in the fridge, coaxed him/her out and took pictures.

Next idea. What about an RV, park it at a nice RV resort? Then I can relocate and have some freedom.

Easter Sunday Apr 05 Rained in AM. Late aft went downtown and walked 4th Street and several blocks around. Most stores closed for Easter, very convenient because no traffic. Big religious Mission event on Courthouse Square. Reading the Bible on PA system, free food and 100 or so people gathered. Downtown Santa Rosa doesn’t have a place to just hang out. Several brew pubs, mostly busy.

Drove to Annadel Park, on the eastern edge of town. It was cool today, but a lot of folks hiking. I’ll be going back when it’s sunny.

Monday Apr 06 My friends Val and Tripp coming here, then going to Healdsburg, 20 miles north for lunch. Haven’t seen them since last summer.

Healdsburg Square with Val and Tripp

Healdsburg Square with Val and Tripp

Healdsburg I thought was going to be old and shabby with lots of history and some touristy antique shops and maybe a general store and a boarded up hotel. You know what I mean – a small town with a storied past and lots of history, but now just a day-trip tourist destination. Well, I could not have been more wrong! Modern, new buildings and renovations everywhere, the picture of a BOOMING small town. The neighborhoods were full of expensively remodeled homes originally built in the 20’s, etc. Downtown has the new and super-chic Hotel Healdsburg, rooms going for six hundred dollars+. Charming little town square, with every single fronting shop and store occupied. On a Monday, it was just busy enough, we could find parking, but had to search. This is one of the greatest small towns I have ever encountered (Sonoma is another). We ate lunch then wandered around with our coats on, it was a little chilly and windy but whom cares when the sun comes out?

Two blocks from the Healdsburg Town Square we found a most beautiful block of homes on Plaza Court. My opinion of course and to have any case against me, you will just have to go see for yourself. It’s two blocks east of the town square. You should pick up a medium cup of gelato ($4.25 from the Healdsburg General Store) to eat while you’re walking over. It might have been in this neighborhood where Tripp showed me how to properly pick and eat a yellow nasturtium blossom. Tasty.

Nasturtiums like we ate

Nasturtiums like we ate

Us three got back in the car and drove. Then we drove some more. Saw at least 10,000 grape vines and 100’s of vineyards, all with spring foliage, bright green leaves. Toured the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys, endless vineyards. Visited the Raymond Burr Vineyard and saw the Fred MacMurray Winery. We made a giant circle around Healdsburg, probably 50 miles total. It rained a little, not as much as forecast. I needed help later to look at a map and figure out where we went.

Tuesday Apr 07 I need someone pleasant to take a walk with, but I’m a stranger here. Brilliant idea #37 Change my zip to Santa Rosa on the web dating site I have been using (with very little success) in the Springs. Results: within one day 12 flirts, 5 messages and 10 women added me as a favorite. Maybe there will be someone? (Disqualifications: Photos of your dog(s) without you; photos where your face is too dark to see or obscured by your fluffy cat). And, please, no more horse pictures. (See April 12 below)

Wednesday Apr 08 Finally found a semi-modern laundry that would do my clothes, coin operated, but modern machines and two guys running the place. Neither spoke inglěs, but we figured it out and they did understand ‘be back at 11:00’. This is a big problem when gone for a month, and no washer dryer where you’re staying. And this one was quite a drive, but near a 24 HR Fitness, so perfect for me. Going to look at two condos that Tara, the RE lady found which were built after 2000, therefore ‘modern’. Both were better (newer) houses than usual around here. The neighborhood was less than acceptable. Didn’t bother to set an appointment to go inside either one. They were in my budget, so too bad.

Thursday Apr 09 Meeting Steve just over the Golden gate bridge in SF!! Going to spend the day sight-seeing, then the night at Steve and Palma’s house and back to Santa Rosa Friday.

Easy trip down, took 50 minutes and never confused or lost. We did see quite a lot in 8 hours:

Stave’s San Francisco Tour (in red)

  • Fisherman’s Wharf (twice) (including the Fishermen’s and Seamen’s Memorial Chapel on Pier 45)
  • Golden Gate Park (twice)
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • California Academy of Sciences Building during ‘NightLife’ event (inc’l Aquarium but not Rainforest)
  • Lyon Street steps
  • Palace of Fine Arts (1915 Panama Canal Exposition Bldgs)
  • JapanTown (went inside a food mall for a bowl of ramin noodles with some other unknown vegetables and something that looked like a floating eyeball)
  • Fort Mason
  • The Presidio
  • Seacliff
  • Haight-Ashbury
  • Pacific Heights
  • North Beach
  • Telegraph Hill
  • Coit Tower (lots of steps to get up to it)
  • SF National Cemetery
  • SF Police Dept Headquarters
  • Golden Gate Bridge (twice) and Oakland Bay Bridge (twice)
  • The island of Alameda, including the ‘tubes’ under the water to get there
  • Lastly, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, except we didn’t pay the $16.95 each to go inside. We did see a two headed goat (stuffed) on display and some tattooed teens waiting in line.


Went to Steve’s house by following him home at 8ish in the dark in scary busy-fast traffic. All were tired, we had a very short discussion about the Flobee* and Ron Popeil’s chicken roaster rotisserie. Sleep came easy, just thinking about Ginsu knives, chop-o-matic and my favorite phrase: ‘Set it and forget it’.

Steve taught me how to drive in the city. Narrow streets with lanes about 6” wider than my car. Wait at least 15 nanoseconds after pushing your blinker stalk to daringly swerve into the next lane. The guy there will let you in with a smile, occasionally a wave of some sort and a short beep. (light travels one foot in a nanosecond)

San Francisco’s JapanTown is the largest and oldest such enclave in the United States, about 6 square blocks.


*But wait, there’s more! While looking up the Flobee, I found something else from RoboCut that all males could use: the ‘HairLine’. Thank me later.

Friday Apr 10 Return to Santa Rosa. In Alameda this AM, took a long walk around a local shipping basin (with three private marinas). On the walk, Steve showed me how to operate my binoculars, which were the exact same model he owns as a full time bird watcher. We spotted a few gulls and a wren, possibly a dicky bird (tit willow). For excitement, Steve drove my car for a ‘history of Alameda Island’ tour and then under the bay into downtown Oakland business district and China Town.

Strange how one wrong exit in a metropolis can cost a person two hours (I took I-80 south instead of north). 60 miles back to the studio, took three hours. The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge was backed up for over an hour. Very pleasant trip to the big city, except for the traffic back (three hours to go 60 miles, including two hours stuck on the Bay Bridge).

Saturday Apr 11 MC to St Helena, Calistoga and Healdsburg, Walked the Healdsburg square looking for wifi and coffee. What a town! Back to Santa Rosa via the Old Redwood Highway, which now is continuously developed with residential and commercial. Windsor’s downtown looked intriguing – new and laid out as a pedestrian friendly village. I’m going back.

Sunday Apr 12 Swept up around the kitchen, there seems to be evidence of ants or termites. I notified the landlord Jim. Email messages received this AM from two attractive women interested in meeting me.

family Formicidae; order Hymenoptera

Drove up to Windsor. They were having a Farmer’s Market, lots of people, but not too crowded. Found a good non-Starbucks coffee shop, I’ll be back to Windsor. They have a ‘Town Green’. Found one condo for sale in Windsor under $300k. Came close to being OK. I found a lady walking her dog (unfriendly she said. As I petted it). She gave me lots of good advice – we talked about her new baby, she was looking for a bigger place but loved this project and said it was by far the most affordable in Windsor. So, the backup plan: buy a nice RV and park it somewhere in California. Just impossible to find a well located condo for my budget.

Landlord Jim came in while I was gone, cleaned up the ant mess and left me an apology note. The ants came back right away. Evidently, there is an infinite supply (of ants) coming from somewhere.

Monday Apr 13 Left Jim a new message about the ants. SeniorTime (internet dating site) girl agreed to meet me Sat for a walk. Gym was wonderfully NOT busy today, Spring Break is over!!! Jim left me a nice note and a $50 bill with his apology for the ants, about which he had dealt with in a more firm and final (deadly) matter.

Today, finally I feel settled in. Comfortable with the geography of the city, driving the freeway (101) and with a routine that feels right. I know where the stores I need are. The ants seem to be gone. They were in my dreams last night.

OMG, I’m actually considering renting a RedBox movie. Desperate for my own cable and my DVR. Direct TV here is fine, with SHO and HBO, but NO recording capability. Have to sit through commercial breaks.

Tuesday Apr 14 My laptop died. Never did I ever picture myself using the Geek Squad, but what choice did I have. For only $200, I get a one year service contract covering most everything, including my blue screen problem. My geek was Taylor, while waiting and bored, I drew a cartoony figure of him on the back of a price label with his skinny nerd tie and his name at the bottom. After signing all paperwork (there was lots) I gave him the sketch. He looked at it, then looked at me, then stared back at it while he walked to the back with my computer, laughing all the way. Later, back in Colorado, the laptop had to go back in to finish the virus scanning. They did get it to boot and work in Cali, but were not complete, almost two weeks at the Squad. In Colorado, two days and done.

Ms. Knightley

Ms. Knightley

Did rent a RedBox movie: The Imitation Game. It was excellent, about how a genius with a rigid personality cracked the German enigma code and won the war for the allies. Plus whom doesn’t like Kiera Knightley?

Wednesday Apr 15 Down to Petaluma to try their Panera and 24 Hour Fitness. Panera was fine, in a new shopping center. Then, couldn’t find 24 Hr. Turns out it was in a historical building in busy downtown Petaluma. On the treadmill, watched the promo for High Profits, a new show on CNN about the Breckenridge Cannabis Club. Which, thanks to curious friends, I had been to, more than once. Interesting owners. Watched the show and others about marijuana on Sunday night and learned a bunch. Everyone interviewed thinks there is (lots of) money to be made. Only a matter of time till its legal everywhere, the documentaries alleged. Lots of folks not too happy about legalizing a popular recreational narcotic that Reagan once called ‘probably the most dangerous drug in the United States’.

Thursday Apr 16 MC to Geyersville About 100 miles. To Val and Tripp’s for dinner this evening. They had two lady guests, about 65 or so. Very nice people, well-traveled, so made for a lively discussion. Tripp cooked, and as expected, wonderful food. We got to talk a little about the book* Blink I had just read. How you can probably trust your first instincts about people and relationships, rather than waiting to see more. Plus the ladies (one of whom had recently taken a tumble) instructed me on how to pick up my feet when I walked, so as not to trip over minor obstructions.

Val’s music room addition is complete, he played a little piano. We went to the roof garden and watched the sun start to set. Val and Tripp have a very nice place! Outstanding views. I am lucky to have friends at all, specially ones like these!

*Two books read on this trip: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and The Thing with Feathers by Noah Strycker. Both good ones, ‘G’ rated.

 Friday Apr 17 ??? (Another lost day)



Saturday Apr 18 Met Linda (from dating site) at Mary’s Pizza, then across the street to Howarth Park for a walk around Lake Ralphine. Linda was nice, I enjoyed the walk and her company. Somehow during this three mile hike, Linda brought up dancing??? As I was curious about the subject, she performed a short demo of ‘shake your booty’ on the trail. Both of us got a huge laugh out of that. A few lucky hikers were heard giggling. We saw up close a duck on her nest atop a big grass pile in the lake. We saw a mother duck swimming with six ducklings in a row, and the father duck chase off every other bird within 30 feet of his family. They swam into the high grass right in front of us.

Sunday Apr 19 Met Val for breakfast at The Garden Court (sounds fancy, doesn’t it?) Hiked up Bald Mountain with Val. 6.8 miles round trip, about 1,500’ vertical. Val is a stronger climber than I, so it took us 3.5 hours. Perfect weather, we were above the clouds/ fog, lots of trees and an easy to follow trail. We could see Val’s house across the valley, above a few intervening ‘mountain-tops’. Lunch at the Palooza Gastropub in Kenwood.

Bald Mountain with Val

Bald Mountain with Val

Monday Apr 20 To Windsor coffee shop on the Town Green. Where are the teenagers coming from at 9:30 AM? Maybe a high school nearby. Not sure we had coffee shops to frequent when I was a kid.

Tuesday Apr 21 Heater in Studio died last night, Jim came over, removed the top, pushed a sticky switch and fixed it. The ant situation is better, but not completely over. Yet. Old man came into Panera, hobbled walk and making groaning noises. Sat down next to me, wanted to talk. I got him a few napkins just to avoid watching him struggle to get up. The thoughtful napkin delivery seemed to quiet him.

Thursday Apr 23 Big day. The ants are back. Decided last night I was going to talk to Jim about the poor environment here in his studio apartment. Yesterday, during the day, I sat down at my tablet (laptop still at Geek Squad) and wrote a detailed critique of my stay and the problems encountered. Every last inconvenience was described. When I arose this AM, I had decided (evidently in my sleep) that I might leave early, I had accomplished everything, and it would leave Jim and Bonnie a week to work on the studio in preparation for their busy season. Maybe fumigate the place. Also, maybe I would ask for some money to be refunded.

First thing, I left Jim a message ‘Let’s talk’. Everyone dreads that short phrase, it never means something good. Sure enough, after reading my ‘review’, Jim suggested I leave early. And when the subject of any refund came up, I blurted out: ‘All of it’. He seemed taken aback and told me he and Bonnie were working hard on their retirement nest egg, and this would put them in a financial hardship, or words to that effect. He would have to talk to Bonnie.

I got back from the gym (and Best Buy where I picked up my bootable laptop, yay) and sure enough, both Jim and Bonnie came over immediately and offered to refund the entire rent and were most apologetic about my situation. To read a more detailed report on exactly why I left early and got a refund, please see ’The Brookside Ant- thropology’.

So, time to pack up for home. I had planned to go on to Quincy in Northeast Cali to visit Larry and Kathryn, but now was in the mood to get home. Packing was easy, backed the car up into the driveway. Loaded the MC and moved the car and bike out to the street for one night.


Spring colors

Spring colors just before the snow came

Friday Apr 24 To Elko, 530 miles all freeway. New route for me through Salt Lake City. Sacramento (pop 500,000) is a much bigger city than I had guessed when first going through a few years ago, and the freeway conditions are bumpy and drivers are just as crazy as in southern Cali. Relieved to make it through without any tie-ups, and pleased to see that most freeways had been repaired or construction underway.

Saturday Apr 25 To Grand Junction, 510 miles. Rained the last 150 miles. Wow, Salt Lake City is big and their one north-south freeway a racetrack, six lanes in some spots of 80 mph pickups and Mormon low riders.

 Sunday Apr 26 Welcome home. To rain, snow, freezing temps. From Grand Junction to home, 307 miles. All of which was in rain or snow. Worst snow storm I have ever driven in. Stopped in Fairplay after making it over Hoosier Pass (11,500 feet) in a whiteout with no plowing whatsoever. Many cars had slid off into the ditch. I got stuck on a city street in Alma (10,578 feet, the highest incorporated municipality in the U.S.) when I pulled off to the side. Ran into a store (yep, the MJ facility) for 10 minutes, then the car would not budge when I tried to leave. Forward, reverse, wheels just spun in place. Snow too deep, and maybe warm tires had turned the snow to ice under the tires?

Stuck in Alma

Stuck in Alma

A wonderful savior young man that I had stopped and chatted with outside the store saw me spinning and ducked inside. Which I figured meant no help. Came back out, shouted to me ‘I have a tow strap in my truck!’ Which then was of only psychological benefit b/c no place to hook it on my jeep. He suggested we shovel out in front of the wheels, it worked. $10 to him just for trying. No more stopping except under a covered area from then on.

Had nine messages when I arrived (more than in my entire life). Last one was an invite to dinner from neighbor to send off my Army friends next door to their new station at West Point. Both are attending grad schools before they start as instructors. She will head up ethics and he physical training. They are really nice, I will miss them. I do not consider myself dinner guest material, so it’s a little surprising and my best behavior will be on display.

Monday Apr 27 Gym and back into normal routine. Trying non-sweetened coffee for a change. Shocked to discover my strength loss after four weeks away. Almost none. Sit-ups OK also. Did have to take 10 lbs off my normal 90 lbs triceps machine. Dinner last night was a blast, and I got to sit at the female end of the table, so much more entertaining! Nick and Maria are off to West Point with no return planned. Maybe we’ll keep up through email. Just before we all got up from the table, why did ____ reach out and cover my hand with hers? Then leave it for 10-12 nanoseconds too long?

Summary of this post:

Bill moved for a month to California, renting a small apartment behind the landlord’s house. He visited friends in Glen Ellen and Alameda (including a private excursion to see 20+ San Francisco landmarks), toured several small towns including Healdsburg and Windsor, rode his motorcycle (only) four times out to the beaches, mountains and vineyards, had a blind date, visited a winery, climbed a mountain and hiked or went to the gym every day but three. The trip ended somewhat early due to an unforeseen situation which developed in the apartment.

If you read the entire blog, you will find out more details about for instance – the woman Bill met, which books and movies he recommends, new hair care products, and so on. Explanations about the photos. Ants. Etc. If you skipped to this summary, you might want to scroll back up and look at the photos to get a flavor.



More about this trip

See photos and a video or two here: California 2015

Read about the apartment ‘situation’ here: Brookside Ant-thropology






3 Responses leave one →
  1. Cables I. Gambling permalink
    June 29, 2015

    One of the better descriptions I’ve read about a month long trip. I’m the guy you met in Austin who had a friend with a Triumph 650 in the 70s. Thanks for including me and remember Nevada is a fun place too.

  2. Quincy Nunez permalink
    June 29, 2015

    Enjoyed your ‘trip’. The ant post is password protected. Could you send it to me? I’m doing a thesis on the ants of California and this sounds like something I could use. Most ants are friendly unless you step on one of their brothers.

  3. Roscoe B. Welastica permalink
    May 10, 2015

    This one seems to get boring at times. Do we care what you ate and when you went to the gym? No. I do like the pictures. What kind of ants were they?

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