15.04.2016 15 °C
...because you may not see this at home - a sly swipe on the ubiquitous "Baby on Board" signs?
And chances are, you won't see two identical white Maseratis, spotted within five minutes of each other, just outside San Francisco. I was too stupefied to get photos of either car, but I did manage to snap these old classics. Don't you think the driver of the Bronco looks like a Lego figure?
You get to ponder different perspectives and political views.
The numbers left out in this sticker? - There are nearly 12,000 gun-related murders a year in the U.S., which since 1990, amounts to almost 300,000 deaths - Americans killing Americans. That does not include gun-related accidental injuries, fatalities and suicides.
We stopped in Tucson for lunch and walked down a street filled with these lawn signs. We asked someone about them - Rosa is a Mexican woman who was an "undocumented" immigrant (nicer term than "illegal") who after years of living and working in Tucson, was discovered by authorities. She sought asylum in a church, and when the police tried to remove her, the community rallied.
It appears their pressure may have worked.
It is so much fun to watch the landscape change. A single hour's drive can make the world of difference. Our original plan was to follow the coast road right up from San Diego to Newport, Oregon.
It started off with great drama - sand dunes. Signs on the highway warn about sudden sand storms - something else I would love to see from a safe distance, and not while driving. Our weather was warm and calm and the sand dunes posed perfectly for their photos.
After we spent five (5) hours inching our way along the historic Pacific Coast Highway through greater Los Angeles, we realized we would need at least two weeks to do that drive properly. Good on us for avoiding the terrifying maw of L.A's freeways, but we soon discovered that finding proximity to the coast on a beautiful Sunday was not an original thought. No matter - first we drove through picture-perfect little towns like Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Encinitas, and that warmed us up for the crawl through auto body shops, adult entertainment palaces and 2 for 1 pizza joints.
We loved this business plan - Liquor and laundry.
Just when we thought our drive couldn't get any more picturesque, we arrived at the Los Angeles Port Authority - miles of containers followed by miles of refineries.
No matter - The famous Venice Beach was just around the corner - home of Muscle Beach, rollerbladers, dog-walkers and Baywatch. They sell those skimpy red one-piece bathing suits made famous by Pamela Anderson - Stephen suggested I buy one.
We walked along the main drag - past rows of T-shirt shops and hot dog stands.
Venice was always well-known for its beachfront community of shingled cottages and we wondered if they might have been torn down by now, but no - much of this area is still filled with 3-storey apartment buildings and tiny, colourful homes. This sweet little house is typical (although we're quite sure the rents are no longer a bargain) and just a block from the beach, accessed by this charming flower-filled lane.
Muscle Beach - this is where the ex-Governator got his start. His younger, buff self, complete with enhanced body parts,
is immortalized on this wall.
We had our lunch -lamb gyros - on a bench by this park where fit young people were climbing ropes, doing chin-ups and otherwise staying bikini-ready. We watched this gentleman expertly slamming the punching bag for several minutes, and he then began showing passers-by (mainly young, attractive women) how to box. This being L.A., I figured he was someone with a backstory - moved here from Pittsburgh, landed a few bit parts in movies, but never quite made it. This is the land of broken dreams, after all. There are so many characters, my imagination just whirled into overdrive. This would not be a healthy place for me to live. For all I know, this man lives in Malibu, drives one of the aforementioned Maseratis, and comes down to Venice Beach to work out.
My imagination went through the roof when we came upon this oddity. I didn't get the front view on film, but in addition to his fetching bathing costume, and fanny pack (!?!), this man had a broad gold medallion around his neck, and inexplicably, two horns on his head. There are undoubtedly fetishes in L.A. we know nothing about, but we were honestly at a loss.
Moving on up the coast, the scenery moved from this:
To lush green pastureland, with beautiful random trees:
To this - higher elevations again, and a more northern look. We left southern California behind.
We spent a night in Eureka, CA - on the coast, and we were struck by what this city must have looked like at one point, when lumbering and shipping and fishing were at their peak. I love the grandeur of some American small towns, even if they have fallen on hard times. Buildings like these are still intact, and they're beautiful. We had a modern dinner in an historic building - will this be a town that can reinvent itself?
We were soon into farmland, heading into the Salinas valley - overwhelming in scope - impossible to guess, but I would think 10 miles across in the valley - planted rows, greenhouses, orchards - much like Mexico - these are the fields that feed us.
Wine country - no explanation necessary.
We left California with a bang - driving through Redwood Forest. We stopped at Lady Bird Grove (named after Lady Bird Johnson). There is a bronze plaque given by former President Richard Nixon, in honour of Lady Bird's commitment to nature, and to saving the redwoods from clear-cutting. Not sure if all the credit goes to her, but we are grateful that someone stepped up - these are (almost) as awesome as our old-growth cedars (kidding... our American friends). We wished we had more time to wander - there are dozens of trails and roads and campgrounds in the area - another trip.
And then into Oregon, one of our favourite states. Oregon has everything - ocean, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, awesome state parks, sand dunes, Portland, Ashland, Crater Lake, wineries, breweries, a great food culture and no state tax. Plus, it has two dear friends, Piotr and Ela - we met them years ago in Mexico, so stopping by for two nights to visit feels like we've wrapped up our trip in the nicest possible way.
At the turn of the century Oregon decided that this magnificent shoreline should be available to all, and in 1967, after a few challenges, it was put into legislation - not one inch of this beach is private property. The coast road is pure joy to drive - for great chunks it runs right along the water, unfettered by high-rise developments or gated communities. These were some of our views as we drove north from California.
We were also grateful for the cool, misty weather - preparing us for our return to Gabriola.
We stopped in Lincoln City for outlet shopping - even with our battered dollar, Stephen scored two pairs of Levi jeans for $100 CAN. To celebrate,we went to Mo's for lunch. Mo's is one of those institutions - seating for 100, seafood chowder that is brimming with clams and butter, and a clientele that goes nowhere without a fleet of walkers. It was fun - plus we had a great view from our window.
A pretty house in Lincoln City - wisteria and all. This house could be east or west coast, Canada or the U.S. - it just oozes Maritime charm.
When Captain Cook discovered this area on March 7, 1778, it was the first location named on his voyage to the Pacific Northwest. He named it Cape Foulweather for its tempestuous weather - there are often 100mph winds.
We have visited it a number of times - this was a good day.
We spent a day and a half with Piotr and Ela and toured around Portland - in pouring rain for much of it - so we have no photos of the city. It served as a reminder of how much we love this city. In the not-too-distant future we will be spending more time here.
And now...the end is near. And so we face the final curtain. So strange. We're in Port Angeles, WA - far across the water from our hotel room window is Canada. Here's our view:
It will be good to be home, even better to see many of you again. I'll miss writing this blog, and really miss hearing back from you. With love, thanks and friendship to you all. Until next time.
Stephen and Ginny