Monday, September 3, 2012

The California Coast...to Home




At Leggett, CA, we left US 101 and headed over to the closer coast road, Hwy. 1.  Twenty-two winding miles later we ended up on the California coast.

We do love the California coast.  We went through Westport and were tempted to stop for the community BBQ going on there that Saturday.  It was a beautiful day for a BBQ: crisp and clear.  A few miles further down the coast in Cleone, CA, our weather check said it was 60 degrees.  Cool!
And there were these pink lilies everywhere!  I looked up pictures on the web and saw they are called Naked Ladies.




In California, August is the month of the naked ladies. They are to be found dancing in gardens and along roads up and down the state. They dance, however, only in the wind, being rooted firmly in the ground--not wild California women, but pink lily-like blossoms of the plant Amaryllis belladonna. The fanciful name was inspired by the fact the plans have no trace of leaf when they are blooming. (http://goldengategarden.typepad.com/golden_gate_gardener_/2011/08/naked-ladies-wildly-successful-plant-of-the-month.html)

We stopped for the night at Fort Bragg, CA, and the Surf and Sand Lodging. That evening we had blackened local rock fish with Yukon gold potato salad and slaw...and split a serving of chocolate bread pudding with Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey sauce from The Q in town.  It was all really good!


Sunday, the 26 of August, we set out to complete our touring of the California coast.  We decided to find a place on the way for breakfast, and I'm so glad we did!  In Elk, CA, we stumbled on Queenie's Roadhouse Cafe.  The food was exceptional and the atmosphere in the cafe was friendly and welcoming.  BYOB, but we had no champagne chilled. ;-)  I had wild rice and pecan waffles with maple syrup, butter, and a side of "really done" bacon (BTW, in Oregon and here the request was made and resulted in bacon as I like it: nothing shiny on it.  ;-)...and Wayne had a western omelet with jalapenos, whole wheat toast, home fries, and raspberry preserves.  One of the most enjoyable venues/meals/finds on this trip so far!


Apparently this is a favorite of the locals because many were greeting each other and the workers when they entered.  

Right across from Queenie's was a state park and before we went back to the car we took a few minutes to walk down there and take a peak at the shore....






We kept our eyes peeled for mountain lions, per the instructions on this posted notice...
From Queenie's we drove down the coast towards Point Reyes.  The ride was as spectacular as ever.  At one point we stopped at a pull-off and looked down from a spot that was so windy we felt like we needed to hang onto each other so's not to be pushed over!



Love the quirky fences along the way


For the evening we stopped at a Holiday Inn Express in Santa Nella, CA.  We were ready to drop by the time we got there after navigating the San Francisco area on an afternoon when the San Francisco Giants were playing the Atlanta Braves.  Santa Nella doesn't even come up on most of our printed maps, and it was really like just a wide spot in the road with a couple of motels and a couple of chain restaurants.  It was totally a stop for convenience.  

It was about 106 degrees late that afternoon, and we used air conditioning that night for the first time since we left Spokane.  The HI Express was like a little oasis, though, with all the rooms facing a lush (obviously irrigated) courtyard.  The breeze was up and we were actually comfortable sitting outside in a little gazebo area.  Must be the dry heat vs. the humid heat, right?  ;-)

The interior of southern California didn't have a lot of appeal for us.  It was barren, dusty,...and turned us against interstate rest areas until we got to Arkansas!  Monday, the 27th, after a day of this, we stopped in Barstow, CA, so we'd be ready to start our trek across I-40 the next day.  Barstow was a good size town, being the place where I-40 begins, but the only place we could find to stay was a Quality Inn on Route 66.  Not bad at all, clean and comfy, with a Mexican restaurant on site.  We had dinner from their that night and it was pretty good.

Tuesday, the 28th, we drove from Barstow to Flagstaff, AZ.  We traveled by the Mojave Reserve and Desert.  HOT!!!  Arizona offered some change in scenery, for the good.  I kept expecting to see the motorcycle rider from Raising Arizona...but, instead, saw a different sort of biker at one of our stops that day....


Looked like "worldly possessions" in the basket...so I looked around inside for the likely owner.  Spotted a young man with maps strewn all around and a large drink in hand (free refills).  

We ran into a heavy rain shower at 5600 ft. in elevation.  It did a little to wash off this poor little Chevy Impala, road weary and bug laden.  Lots of trains, long trains, as we passed through this area.  

Flagstaff was a joy!  At 7000 ft. elevation, it was cool and breezy.  The home to Northern Arizona Univ., it is small, but has a real personality.  We decided to check out one of the DDD recommendations here, Salsa Bravo.  The food was good, but we'd have to give it a 3 out of 5 since they didn't bring our margaritas before the food.

Wednesday, the 29th, brought us to Albuquerque, NM, for the evening.  The landscape in New Mexico was immediately different.  In particular, there were areas to the west of Albuquerque that had outcroppings of black, charred looking rock.  Turns out it's volcanic rock...and we probably noticed it in the area close to...wait, it's coming...Black Rock, NM.

I'm quite sure we didn't see the best of Albuquerque.  For one thing, we were on the west perimeter of the city, right next to the interstate.  At this point in our trip, we weren't even interested in going downtown to see the sights that night...

Thursday, August 30, we decided we'd seen enough of I-40 and were ready to be home.  We left Albuquerque that morning and didn't stop until we'd gone through Texas and all the way to Oklahoma City, OK.  (Well, we stopped, we just didn't STOP.)  Most memorable about Oklahoma City for me:  Angry Birds.  Morning and night, this is what I saw outside our motel room in the courtyard area.  Lucy was spooked!


video
  

Friday, August 31, we made it all the way back to Jackson, TN.  The trip included a brush with remains of Isaac as we got to Little Rock, AR, that afternoon.  The winds weren't too bad.  The rain was steady.  The interstate, though, with the road spray, 75 mph + trafffic, and close quarters between cars and trucks made us uncomfortable.  We spotted Hwy. 70 on the map, running parallel to I-40, and ducked off for a little while.  It was lunch time, anyway, and we were hoping to find a local cafe.  Viola!!  There was a sign to Advada's Cafe in Carlisle, AR.




We did a little back tracking and found it, parking lot filled (always a good sign.)  Inside was like a warehouse with all kinds of bric-a-brac hanging 'round.  A buffet was set out with southern style cooking...and a menu was available.  Wayne went for the patty melt with FF, and I got the hamburger steak with salad ("a la Mother": iceberg lettuce with tomato pieces).  It was good, and the feeling in the cafe was good, too.  There were a lot of people around in large groups enjoying the time there.  Check it out if you're in the area.


Saturday was an easy drive home.  We pulled in around 3 PM.  

It was a wonderful trip!  Would we do another road trip again?  Not this road trip...but another one, yes.  Would we go back to the Northwest Coast?  In a heartbeat.  We logged 7500 miles on the Impala and went through 17 states besides Tennessee.

I was thinking about the conveniences we had on this trip that travelers didn't have even 10 years ago.  We had a GPS, though it sometimes chose some weird paths, just like Google Maps.  We switched from US Cellular to Verizon before this trip because we realized US Cellular's coverage in the traveling area was often poor or nil.  We have a data plan on our phones so we can get internet coverage through them, and we used an app called FoxFi that would create a wifi for us anywhere data coverage existed. This allowed us to use our computers when necessary, even if we weren't around a wifi.  Wayne got a booster for his cell phone to make sure he'd have coverage on the trip...and there were  times when it was needed.  Business went on, as usual, as we were traveling, meaning Wayne often spent 4-5 hours working during the weekdays.  

TripAdvisor app was a big help in assessing motels and restaurants, as was TV Food Maps, Local, and Google Maps.  We started using the voice recognition option for searching on Google or for composing emails as we progress in the trip.  We'd usually have to make a few changes to the text, but overall it was easier than typing in everything on the phone screen keyboard while riding in a car. 

 Soundhound app was good for identifying artist and title when listening to those oldie stations.  Gas Buddy was great for finding the cheapest gas around, especially since we always seem to travel at a time when fuel costs are on the rise.  I tried a new app called Glympse to allow others I specified to see our current location, but couldn't get the hang of it (at least no one acknowledged the message sent).  One Bus Away app was great in Seattle.  It could spot our location at a bus stop and indicate when the next bus was arriving.  And, of course, the phone camera and video cam came in handy for impromptu recording of events.

I'm sure we'll think of things to add to this "journal" as the days go by...and I will re-edit the posts as needed.  Hopefully I'll get all of this down in a written format soon for us to enjoy for some time.  




















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