Sunday, July 8, 2007

In Salinas. Travels with...

If Steinbeck were alive today, would he have kept a blog?

I wonder this as I enjoy unexpected wi-fi in our motel room in this hometown of one of America's greatest writers...Would he have written 'Travels with Charley' on a laptop, his dog in a corner of the motel room?

I type this with our two little parrots in the room with us; Paquito is on my wife's shoulder as she packs up, and he's even tweeting 'are we there yet?'--no kidding, really, he just tweeted that...And Tango is contentedly eating his pellets in his cat-carrier-cum-bird-trailer.

But really, we're not weird bird people.

'Travels with Paquito and Tango.'

Yesterday evening, we drove across the Golden Gate bridge. My other driving-across-suspension-bridge experiences have been the Lions' Gate bridge in Vancouver BC and the Tacoma Narrows bridge in Tacoma WA. They seem like toys compared to San Francisco's orange icon. Wow.

Cold. The 40-degree temperature difference between Mendocino county, where we'd last gotten out of the car--it was 95--and the foggy windy viewpoint just past the bridge on the northern tip of San Francisco, where it was a damp 55--it takes your breath away. In the 'giftu shoppu' (the gift shop really really had that written on its outside sign--as a help for Asian tourists?), I ran into a Thai exchange student who'd spent the year at the high school where I just finished teaching back in suburban Seattle! Small world...then again, the Golden Gate is one of those iconic American landmarks that most tourists want to see, foreign or 'native'...

Earlier yesterday morning, we drove through some of the giant redwoods--trees up to the height of a 30-story skyscraper! And yes, we couldn't resist paying a few bucks to do the ubiquitous tourist-task: driving through a redwood tree. You can't not do it...And then later, standing on the windswept bluffs looking back at the Golden Gate Bridge, realizing that those trees would reach halfway up those towers--sobering reminder of how big nature can be, no matter how big our engineering might get as well...

Two days ago, while driving through southern Oregon, we say a hay-na-do.
Well, that's the best we could come up with, that word, to describe a dust-devil, but not a DUST-devil, but rather a circulating column of air full of tossed up hay! Surreal, to be coasting down I-5 and see a pillar of cut grass spiralling upward, and then to drive through it...

Rural northern California lives up to its image--a combination of loggers, eco-anti-loggers, 'medicinal'-marijuana users and plain-ol' potheads, urbanites on weekend excursions, dairy farmers, lots of facial hair and white people with dread-locks, and cold-hardy palms mixed in with the conifers...mile upon mile of almost deserted beaches with relentless frigid surf.

We had breakfast in a café on the main square in Arcata--palm trees and dahlias on the Victorian square. The community bulletin board is full of yoga ads, and my favorite--'play dragon tai ch'i for children.' No, I am not making this up.

In Eureka we stopped at "Los Bagels" where the 'open' sign specified 'se habla inglés!'
Mexican-Jewish kitsch for sale inside, along with 'kwasants' and 'chocolate kwasants.' Snacking on such, we came across a table with a heterogenous group of tie-clad men and boys and ladies in dresses...Who could they be, eh?...Yep--on a coffee-and-grub-break...
Instant amigos...
Fun to chat with them...

So, time to sign off, put the birdies in the car. (It's been surprisingly easy to travel/move with them...)
And before heading down to Solvang and the Santa Ynez valley, we're going to go to the Steinbeck museum in downtown Salinas. The fog should burn off by late morning and it'll be a balmy 70...go just a few miles inland across the coastal range, and it'll be in the 100's...

That's all for today's weather report.

This was my first time using wi-fi.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the update. Nice to hear about the details of your journey. travel safely.