A Travellerspoint blog

i am a road warrior

willcox, az to ozona, tx

sunny 64 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

today, i clocked more miles than the last two days combined. aka: this is going to be short.

today was also the day of hilarious road signs.

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other favorites included:

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Welcome to New Mexico
drive friendly, we do!
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shortly thereafter, i was nearly sideswiped by a fellow traveler. his plates were from New Mexico.

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a warning sign in Texas:
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Pay attention to warning signs

it's the law
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really? i need to pay attention to warning signs? but if you're not paying attention to warning signs, are you really going to heed the warning sign telling you to pay attention to warning signs?

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need a potty break? dying to update your facebook status? dismayed that you're in the desert? no fear, WiFi Rest Stop is here!!

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seriously, though. i clocked 600 miles today. i'm going to bed so i can hit the road and kick its butt on the way to Austin tomorrow. (yayayayayayayayaYAY!!!)

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Posted by ms_geneva 23:03 Comments (0)

they say patience is a virtue... i think i understand why

gila bend, az to willcox, az

sunny 72 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

today started out much like the others; wake up, clean up, pack up and head out. instead of grabbing a protein bar and a cup of coffee for the road, i decided to treat myself to a real breakfast in a real restaurant. i pulled into the Outer Limits Café, a space-themed restaurant in the heart of Gila Bend, AZ. albeit a little run down, the food was exactly what i was craving: a traditional trucker breakfast. the eggs were fried in real butter, the bacon had real fat attached and the pancakes melted in my mouth. it was a little slice of heaven. it was also the place that i met my new grandparents.

i decided to adopt them when i realized it was they that belonged to the two motorcycles parked next to El Monsterito. pushing seventy (if not seventy-five), the two couples were dressed in full leathers, the men in chaps and the women in a traditional mom-jean cut. both of the ladies were sporting the cutest little hats, one with an animal print band and the other with jewel-tone sequin things that went perfectly with the space-age theme of the restaurant. i wanted to take them home immediately. they were even nice enough to let me take their picture so i could show my mom that she’s not too old to get back on the hog.
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soon after getting back on the road, i noticed a strong fuel smell that was not going away. it seemed to intensify as i traveled down the road, to the point where my nostrils were burning and my stomach was turning. i pulled off the highway at a picnic area to check for leaks. finding nothing but a beautiful view, i returned to the road. unfortunately for me, the smell did not dissipate. i had to stop every half hour or so to get fresh air as the stench was so strong that even having the windows down did nothing to alleviate the suffering of sinuses.

the good thing about this was it forced me to slow down and take notice of my surroundings. during my longest break, at Picacho Peak, i walked along a desert path at half-speed, performing a meditation technique i read about in a book by Paulo Coehlo. i forced myself to slow down, not only in body but in mind as well. i took myself out of the frenetic place in my head that constantly worries about how many miles in how many hours and when i’m going to get where and how much time i’ve wasted doing god knows what and how much gas i’m going to need and where i’m going to sleep and eat and and and… and brought myself back to the moment i was actually in. i slowed even further, carefully placing first my heel, then arch, ball and toes; rolling slowly forward, noticing the way the rocks beneath my feet looked, sounded, felt. i noticed the tiny white buds on the groundcover, the exact texture of each cactus i passed, the tiny yellow flower all by itself in the rocky soil.

i was reminded that we are not alone in this world; that no matter how much we try to re-form this earth to suit our preferences and our conveniences and our comforts, we do not own it. i thought of all the people that had passed this way before, first on foot, then on horses or in wagons and now speeding along in vehicles. i realized that the faster we go, the more we miss along the way; the more focused on the outcome, the more we miss the process. it occurred to me that perhaps, all of those things that we surround ourselves with to make our lives easier instead entrap us in a false reality. we become so consumed with the desire to own, to do, to achieve, to accomplish, to succeed that we forget that life is happening right now. life does not lie in what might come tomorrow or what happened yesterday, but in this very moment. this is the most important moment of your life.

i also realized just how self-focused i have become over the past few years. i’ve been trying so hard to make sense of my life and all of the things that have happened that i’ve forgotten to stay connected to the rest of the world. i’ve neglected my family, my friends and even my larger commitment to the world. in trying to figure out the whys and hows of my past and future, i’ve forgotten to stay plugged into the people, places and things that really matter to me. i’ve become just as shallow and self-serving as the people i roll my inner eye at as i walk by and judge myself superior in every way (which is of course, ludicrous).

it’s such a slow, insidious process that i hardly noticed it happening. i had become the center of my own universe and began to separate myself from everyone else, turning my eye inward and warping reality so that it fit with the script i had written for my life. i re-cast the characters so that i was always the one in the right, the one who had been wronged, the one who would prevail.
being the leading woman in my own story, i started treating people as supporting actors.

of course, all i can do to change this is to remember the lessons of today: stay focused, stay present, stay attentive. live, now.

Posted by ms_geneva 23:52 Comments (0)

greetings from gila bend

sunny 67 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

so, i got a little bit of ribbing today for not posting an update yesterday. sorry about that, i wasn’t exactly in an area that was conducive to having the internet, being a sea-cliff and all. and besides, i didn’t do much at all yesterday since i was completely exhausted from having not slept the night before. might it have had something to do with the fact that i was up until four am updating this very blog? nah… i’m sure it wasn’t that.

yesterday started off nicely enough, barring the whole lack of sleep thing. i checked out of the motel and returned to Stone to pick up a couple of things from their merch store. not surprisingly, i was lured into the bistro by the rumbling noises in my stomach which convinced me that what i really needed for breakfast was a bruschetta blt with smoked gouda, not the tired old granola bar and cup of gas station coffee that i had planned. (it was a pretty easy sell, to be honest)

after brunch, i loaded up the car with my goodies and headed on over to sunny San Diego. granted it wasn’t as sunny as i had hoped, but i needed one more day with the Pacific before i left it for good. i hadn’t gotten very far down the coast when i passed a little campground positioned right at the top of these cute little bluffs. finding the idea of a day spent napping in the sunshine too tempting to pass up, i decided to check in and ditch any efforts of doing anything that required, well, effort. the rest of the day was blissful: just me, my book and the sea. the twelve hours of sleep didn’t hurt a bit, either.

i awoke well before my usual ten-or-eleven-o-clock, and went about breaking camp. this was complicated by the wind storm that had blown in overnight, which seemed determined to pick my tent up and toss it overboard. my neighbors were nice enough to ‘help’ by driving the stakes all the way into the ground for me. of course, this wasn’t enough to do any real good so they had to throw the cooler inside to weigh down the front enough to keep the dang thing in place. and i thought breaking camp by myself was difficult on a normal day. ha. try doing it with 30mph wind gusts. that’ll learn ya. once i succeeded in wrestling everything into its proper place, i headed out to explore the city.

not finding much more than the usual strip malls and box stores, along with the apparently ubiquitous meandering streets with multiple personality syndrome which make driving in a new place even worse than usual, i ditched town and headed back to the ocean for one last hurrah. la jolla (the jewel) lived up to its name, glistening with hues of turquoise, emerald and sapphire. feeling timid but daring, i clambered over the sandstone bluffs and gingerly, if not gracefully, lowered myself down the 10 foot drop in order to play tag with the waves.

getting back up was even less graceful, requiring a bit of rock-climbing ability i’m still not sure i possess. at one point, i was dangling half-off of the bluff with only the tips of my fingers and my faith keeping me in place. i managed to squirm my way to safety, glad that no one was around to watch me floundering around on my belly. even accounting for the skinned knees and bruised ego, it was totally worth it.

upon my return to the car, i was shocked to realize that it was already nearing two o’clock in the afternoon. i shifted into drive and went off in search of the highway out of town, deciding to skip the visit to the Geisel library in favor of putting some miles behind me instead. might i say, whoever said that 500 miles a day is a good pace for a road-trip obviously wasn’t driving by themselves. that, or they probably got on the road earlier in the day than i tend to and have more time to take breaks along the way. me, i can’t seem to get on the road before noon, sometimes even later than that and even if i drive until midnight or one am, i find i’ve still only gone 300 or so miles. just the thought of it is exhausting.

the rest of the day was spent on the road, winding my way up and then back down the coastal mountain range which at one point reached an elevation of 4,181 ft. once out of the mountains, i entered the desert which was sparsely populated to say the least. the border guards, however, were a lively bunch. they were highly amused by Gnorm and very informative. did you know that el caminos are very popular with drug smugglers? you see, there’s a large storage area behind the seat that runs under part of the bed. apparently, it’s handy for hiding things. illegal things. like drugs. fortunately for me, my wholesome looks and winning personality kept them from looking too closely (kidding, mom). the drug dog didn’t find anything too interesting and i was quickly waved on through.

it didn’t take long after that before i started to come down with cabin fever and decided to call it a day. it didn’t help that my phone battery died mid-conversation with a friend of mine which was the only thing keeping me from becoming hypnotized by the pretty little lights in the middle of the road that seemed to stretch on in a straight line right up to the horizon. i wonder if the desert is less dull in the daytime? guess we’ll find out tomorrow… until then, i’m going to catch what sleep i can.

Posted by ms_geneva 01:11 Comments (0)

venturing forth

Ventura to Escondido

sunny 70 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

as day two winds to a close, i find myself wearier than i have been in quite a while. this is especially surprising considering how few miles (a mere 200) i clocked behind the wheel today. of course, if you look at travel time instead of distance, i did put in another eight hour day nearly all of which was behind the wheel. maybe i need to take more breaks that involve physical activity other than relieving myself. speaking of which, my bladder discovered the BEST garlic bread ever at this little cafe in Newport called Mezzaluna. i had been ignoring it for nigh on 90 minutes and it started to make threats, so i pulled over at the next coffee shop i saw. what i failed to notice was the fact that they were closing. fortunately for me (and my bladder) the cafe next door was still doing business. as i was planning on eating dinner at Stone in Escondido i ordered some garlic bread to go and by the gods was it fantastic! there must have been 4 cloves of fresh garlic and half a pound of butter slathered on the freshest of french breads which was crusty on the outside and flaky in the middle. in other words, perfection.

but i should get back to the beginning... i slept in and got a bit of a late start (surprise, surprise). first order of the day was tracking down a decent cup of coffee which was harder than one would imagine. i suppose its my fault for not finding lodging in the Starbucks District. i eventually tracked down a little cafe in Ventura Harbor which afforded me a breathtaking view of the mountains i drove through in the dark the night before. caffeine in hand and stars in my eyes, i took to the road following the pacific coast highway south towards L.A.

if you've never driven the coastal highway, you need to add it to the bucket list; it is an amazing experience. winding along the shoreline caught between rugged cliffs and deep blue seas, hugging each curve as if it were a loved one and never knowing what you'll find on the other side is an experience that really is beyond the grasp of words. as i travel along, i am humbled by the contrast between the bluffs looming to my left and the relatively puny cars speeding happily along ahead of me. dwarfed by nature's grandeur, my problems seem tiny and insignificant, my worries fall by the wayside and are swept away by the cleansing sea.

slowly but surely, the uninhabitable foothills give way to a friendlier landscape and houses start cropping up along the shore. speeding through malibu, i round a bend and Los Angeles appears in the distance. my heartbeat picks up as i dream of the Santa Monica pier, the trendy but friendly West Hollywood and a visit to Mann's Chinese Theater to re-visit one of my earliest memories and see if my hands still fit inside of Shirley Temple's imprint. dodging through traffic, i begin to understand why the area is often subject to effusive epithets. this is a city that seems to pre-date the invention of the automobile and was laid-out along the grazing paths of some sort of drunken mountain goat.

i spend a pleasant hour winding along the varied streets, avenues and boulevards completely lost but enjoying the ride despite the occasional car horn or shrieking idiot who can't figure out the basic theory behind lane changes. somehow i manage to find sunset blvd and happily speed along, rejoicing in my good fortune. my joy soon turns to dismay as traffic slows to a crawl but i forge ahead, undaunted. as i nearly miss running over a hapless chauffeur, it dawns on me that i just saw a bit of red carpet. could it be The Red Carpet? it is awards show day... soon after, i yank the steering wheel over and pull into the parking lot of Carney's where it is said to reside the best chili dog on the planet.

after a couple of failed maneuvers, i manage to squeeze the el camino into one of the miniature parking spots without blocking too much of the lot. as i ensure that i am not going to cause a parking disaster for another, i realize that those car horns /were/ directed at me after all. somewhere along the way between the 45 degree inclines and the idiot-dodging, my tailgate came undone. that's right, the back of the el camino is hanging wide open. the only thing that saved me from trailing my things all over Hollywood was the fact that Sassie and i are packing GENIUSES who artfully arranged every piece to its best advantage and placed the hauling straps /just so/ which enabled the dress form to keep everything else in place thus averting disaster. whew.

the rest of my time in the los angeles area was pretty uneventful, as the neighborhood i most wanted to see was completely cordoned off for the next two days to accommodate the academy awards presentation. somewhat deflated, i went in search of the HOLLYWOOD sign hoping to salvage at least one of my goals for this little venture. it took a surprisingly long time and a considerable amount of patience to find a decent vantage point. of course, i'm sure it didn't help that i spent most of my time crossing the streets directly underneath the dang thing completely unaware of its actual location. i didn't earn the title Queen of the Poptarts for nothing...

tired of being tied up in traffic and craving fresh air, i hopped on the 101 and headed south leaving the city behind and setting my sights on Escondido and the legendary Stone Brewing Co. for those of you who aren't complete nerds when it comes to beer, Stone is one of the pre-eminent craft breweries in the country, if not the world. they take the art of brewing to a new level and manage to do so on a very large scale with one of the most impressive distribution areas of the craft brew universe. many of us hop-heads cut our teeth on Stone's IPA, a well-balanced beer that has body, character and attitude without being too harsh for newbies.

upon arriving in Escondido, i secured lodging at the Hacienda Motel on Mission St and began preparations for my long-anticipated visit. i hopped in the shower and scrubbed away the smell of L.A., checked my directions and headed out the door. dismayed at the late hour, i wound my way through the oddly circuitous route hoping and praying the brewery would have the good sense to not close early this lonely Sunday night. deep in the heart of the industrial district of the city, the location was less than easy to find, but find it i did. lacking any sort of signage, i operated on instinct alone to find the entrance to the bistro itself. relieved to find that they were still in operation despite the fact that there were only two other patrons in the establishment, i sauntered up to the bar and joyously took my seat.

i was presented with an impressive draft list which surprisingly consisted of only seven Stone brews. after a short exchange with the bartender, i was presented with an array of samples to choose from. the first was Green Flash's Palate Wrecker which definitely lived up to its name. feeling like i just bit into the bud of a Cascade hop, i struggled to pick out the subtler characteristics of the other beers that Matt brought for me to sample. eventually, the effect died down a bit and i was able to pick a favorite. Stone's aptly named Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale was my beverage of choice, a double black IPA featuring an aggressive hop profile with a nice caramel malt character to smooth out the finish.

realizing that i had neglected to eat dinner in my eagerness, i put in an order for their Tilapia Ceviche. ever since discovering the dish in Mexico two years ago, i order ceviche wherever i find it for this is truly one of the best things to happen to seafood in the history of seafood. Stone did not let me down, offering up a beautiful blend of tilapia, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos in a bath of citrus juice. Tangy, spicy and delicious, it hit all of the perfect notes.

little did i know, spicy dishes are not just complemented by hoppy beers, they are enhanced by them. meaning, the hoppier the beer it is paired with, the spicier a dish will become. holy ceviche, batman! my mouth was soon tingling from the combination of spice and hop, but wow was it fantastic! to round out my meal, i tucked into the copy of Epictetus' Discourses i found at the second hand bookstore, a perfectly pretentious compliment to a complex taste-stravaganza. with my belly full and my intellectual appetite satiated, i headed back to the motel with a serene smile knowing that i shall return tomorrow to pick up a few goodies before heading onto San Diego and the beaches of So-Cal.

Posted by ms_geneva 03:50 Comments (0)

the long-awaited departure

semi-overcast 65 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

the last five weeks have been an exercise in patience, a virtue which i do not possess in abundance. from practically the moment i arrived back in California, i have been thinking about/planning/pondering/gnashing my teeth/chomping at the bit/trying to find my center while waiting for this day. every time i thought i had a plan in place, something would happen and blow it all apart. each time this occurred, i would break a little bit further until i fractured completely about two weeks ago. thanks to the care and concern of some truly wonderful people, i put myself back together again and am proceeding to climb back on the wall, all Humpty Dumpty style.

but on to greater things, i decided to be all stubborn today and not take the easy road out of Monterey (have you met me?). instead, i cruised down Del Monte Blvd, through the tunnel onto Lighthouse, through New Monterey over to Oceanview where i said good-bye to my old parking spot next to Lover's Point in PG. i continued on along the ocean, passing around the point while watching the waves crash at Asilomar where i grabbed hwy 68 towards Carmel where i joined hwy 1 for a bit. not wanting to spend 5 hours going 20 mph around Big Sur, i decided to follow Carmel Valley Road through the Carmel Highlands thinking it would be a great 'shortcut' over to the 101 (which i could have caught in Salinas, about 15 miles from where i was staying but no, that's too easy...).

i spent the next two hours fluctuating between 15 and 45 mph, feeling a bit like Dorothy as she followed the Yellow Brick Road through the Haunted Forest on her way to the Emerald City. the road wound up and down, around and around, going from two lovely, wide-spaced lanes where you could see forever to tiny little paths carved into the side of the hill where if you met oncoming traffic, one of you would have to throw it in reverse until the road widened out enough for the other to pass. the weather was being appropriately dramatic as well, shrouding the valley in misty, ethereal clouds that alternatively spat rain and revealed the sun wherever it would be most effective to set the mood.

after making such beautifully, agonizingly slow progress, i cheered aloud when the valley opened up and i once again saw signs of civilization, especially the one that indicated the way to hwy 101 just ahead. after the tragically gorgeous doom and gloom of the Highlands and the Los Padres National Forest, the open landscape of Sycamore Flat was like a refreshing dram of water after a long hike. a helpful local helped me along when the fork in the road stumped me, and i sped on to Greenfield feeling liberated. upon reaching town, i joined El Camino Real and headed south, exceeding 65 mph for the first time all day.

i stopped off at King City for a quick re-fuel for myself and El Monsterito, then made use of the last of the day's light moving on down the road at a nice clip. the rest of the drive was fairly uneventful, just me and the highway's other occupants cruising along up and down through the mountains in the pitch black of night, where instead of seeing the hills and valleys you merely sense them on an animalistic level as the slightest change in the blackness clues you in to what is happening around you. it wasn't until i reached the coast again near Santa Barbara that i was again able to discern the landscape around me with the assistance of the lights of L.A. providing a distant backdrop for the coastal peaks.

realizing that i had been on the road for nearly eight hours with barely a reprieve, i chose to hunker down in Ventura for the night, where i plan to get a good night's rest so that i may take full advantage of what Hollywood has in store for me tomorrow. until then, i bid you adieu.

Posted by ms_geneva 23:25 Comments (0)

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