Has another week gone by already? Kim and I have both noticed that our sense of time on this trip has become very distorted. Days bleed into one another, and it seems sometimes like we’re barely moving. Yet at the same time, we’ve now traveled 1500 miles and the entire length of California!
When we last left you, we’d made our way to Yosemite National Park. The valley is beautiful, more beautiful than I could have imagined. Last Friday morning, we took our bikes into the park and pedaled from waterfall to waterfall, stopping from time to time to take a hike (or to sip a beer).
After two days in Yosemite, we thought we’d return for a third. But by the time Saturday rolled around, we were feeling worn out. Instead, we took our first down day of the trip and hung around camp. We sunbathed and read. In the evening, we drove to nearby Evergreen Lodge, where we sipped whine and chatted with two guys our age from St. Louis. We had so much fun that we stuck around for four hours! Here I am trying to look rugged for our mountain surroundings:
On Sunday morning, we returned to Groveland to spend a final night with Kim’s brother. In the afternoon, Doug and I rode dirt bikes. In the evening, Jenn and her brother joined me and Kim for a barbecue at Uncle Freddie’s house. Fred has been in the entertainment industry for a longtime, including a stint as drummer for the Charlie Daniels Band. I made him pose in front of his gold record for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (which as always been one of my favorite songs).
We rose early Monday morning and drove south to Visalia. What’s in Visalia? A lot of farmland! We basked in the scent of the orange groves as we drove to and from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (two adjoining parks managed as one). While there, we saw the General Sherman Tree, which is the world’s largest living tree. Here it is, flanked by two friends:
After one night in Visalia, we had intended to leap the Sierra Nevadas and spend some time in Death Valley. But the more we looked at it, the more we felt like it wasn’t the right move for us. We decided to save that area (and Las Vegas) for our return trip in a year. Instead, we swung over to the California coast to an RV park outside Santa Barbara. At Rancho Oso, Kim got to hang out with the horses, which is always a treat.
As we drove to Santa Barbara, we saw miles of billboards touting Pea Soup Andersen’s. Kim tried to convince me that it’s a California landmark, so we stopped to have pea soup for lunch. It was actually pretty good. But more than the food, I liked the amazing kitschy feel that seems to have survived from the Sixties or Seventies. Nice! After lunch, we explored the nearby town of Solvang, which clings to a Danish sensibility.
On Thursday, we drove down to Ventura to see the Channel Islands National Park visitor center. As much as I wanted to visit the islands themselves, we couldn’t justify the expense; we’re already creeping over budget. Instead, we drove back to Santa Barbara, where we read on the beach and biked around town. In the afternoon, we celebrated our third anniversary by going wine tasting. We had a fantastic dinner at The Lark, which is in the middle of Santa Barbara’s so-called “Funk Zone”. (If that’s a funk zone, then all of Portland is funky.)
Today we made our first marathon drive, and it wasn’t fun. We spent 6-1/4 hours driving 230 miles across the greater Los Angeles area, moving from Santa Barbara on the coast to Idyllwild in the mountains. When you count packing and unpacking, it took nine hours to get settled again. I didn’t like it. We’ll do our best to keep future legs to five hours or under.
Now, though, we can rest. After 3+ weeks of nearly constant travel, we plan to stay put for ten days. We’ll visit Joshua Tree National Park and see both sides of Kim’s family, but for the most part we’ll sit around camp and read and write and make repairs to the RV.
With luck, that means I can actually get a few more blog posts written — both for here and for my personal site!