Tuesday, January 26
Up a little before 9. Another clear blue sky day. Down Los Virgenes west to Malibu at 9:38, 65 degrees, odometer 120016. A rolling road, not terribly curvy, wonderful mountains in front of me, all around me, not great but good ones. There's one at Piuma Road that sort of rises to a peak. Perral Calabasos Ranch. "Watch for Falling Rocks Ahead." A sheer rock cliff to my left, among all these scrub brush covered hills, a rocky canyon, a rock rising up directly to my right, a little distance before it rises off to my left, probably a creek down there. God, it is beautiful over there, all this rock. There's a big canyon over there, way down there. And there's the ocean in front of me.
Did you hear about the guy who had amnesia and deja vu at the same time? He thinks he's forgotten this before.
Calabasas to Morro Bay
Down to Malibu and the Pacific Coast Highway at 10:05. Laurel Canyon Road. Pass a bay, around a headland, there’s another bay with a rocky headland on the other side with some cliffs. Zuma Beach. The air is cool and fresh; with the windows open it just feels so damn good. This is really nice. Pacific ocean off to my left, low mountains off to my right. Below the road that big blue ocean, the waves coming in one after another and cresting and crashing against the walls of the houses on the beach. A totally clear blue sky dome overhead, clear blue ocean going on forever to the shores of Japan, a cool breeze. Yeah. It's a good day. A couple of freighters out there on the horizon. Malibu Riding and Tennis Club. God, that ocean is such a wonderful wonderful blue. The sky is a pale blue, the ocean a darker blue, not really dark, but a deeper blue than the sky.
Ventura County Line at 10:37, temp 66. Over to my left there are these tall palms fronding out at their tops. There was a curl that just went on and on and on. "Look for Falling Rocks Next 8 Miles." The road ahead slightly curving, a wonderful headland ahead, sky meets ocean, pale red, yellow, anx red rock. Sycamore Cove, a big rock jutting out of the coast. Point Mugu State Park, La Cholla Canyon. A new sport, sandsurfing, coming down a sand-covered slope on surf boards. This is so fine, the ocean to my left, to my right rock layers of strata of different colored rocks, just so fine. Goodbye ocean at 11:04.
Oxnard. To my right lots of plastic enclosed plants, semi-circular enclosures going back some distance from the road and some distance along the road. Lots of people out in the field picking and harvesting. Pretty windy. 101 at 11:16, temp 70. An Arby's roast beef in Ventura. $21 of $2.699 gas at a USA. Looks like I've lost my cane. They said it wasn't at the Vagabond Inn. Picked up some flavored water and Quaker oats bars at Von's.
Back on 101 at 12:13 and immediately on to California Route 33. Oil rigs pumping at the edge of Ventura as I come into the scrub brush covered hills, though mostly grass, not much scrub brush. Casitas Springs, home of Johnny Cash. Ojai at 12:41 then a nice twisty turning roat that would be fun in my old Sprite or my Porsche. Then I learned that I had missed a turn that 33 took at Ojai so now I've got to go all the way back that twisty turning road at 12:59. Finally back at 1:12 to 33.
Into some nice country again, red rock sage brush a couple of rounded mountains rising ahead of me on the road. These rounded mountains remind me of those in northwestern Pennsylvania. Just went behind a couple of rock cliffs both very close to the road. I'm in the Los Padres National Forest. The thing that strikes you when you pull over is the silence. Strange looking pines at Patruro John Trail, their limbs stuck on them at odd angles. Into conifer country, lots of relatively small pines very fleshed out like the Christmas trees you always wanted to have. Pine Mountain Summit, elevation 5160 feet. Oh my God. A totally indescribable huge vista down to ridge after ridge and fold and after fold of red rock and some in the distance with what looks like purple, dozens maybe hundreds going on and on, shadows in between peaks valleys, just impossible to describe. To my left, what looks like a very wide dried-up river plain with a mountain that looks like a pyramid in the middle. Now it's farmland with little shoots just coming up from the soil. Back to that dried-up river on my left now, looks like dried mud. Mountains beyond that to the west are fairly high, a big gray range behind them, on my right yellowish hills with some scrub brush on them but mostly naked hillsides.
Santa Barbara County Line at 2:50. Ventucopa at 2:53. San Luis Obispo County Line at 2:59. To California 166. To my left, the road is lined with 4-foot high trees or bushes, no leaves, tiny little branches sticking out all over the place. Strange yellow mountains off to my right, hills almost completely devoid of vegetation, some gullies in the land between me and them, now a bunch of small hills full of little ridges and valleys highlighted by the sun to my left, there's that winding twisting gully. A really strange twisty rock formation. Pine Canyon, probably some pretty spectacular stuff off to my right but the sun is in my eyes. Temp back up to 67 at 3:55. Route 101 again at 4:12.
Route 1 at 4:39. Big rocks hanging over this town. Moro Bay City Limits at 4:53, temp 60. Days Inn, odometer 120267. Dinner was a slice of pizzas and half of a meatball sub at Sabetta's.
Wednesday, January 27
1979: "I finished Son, My Son nearly 19 years after beginning and nearly 2 1/2 years of steady writing. I thought I'd be relieved but I wasn't.
It was a bit sad, losing something that's been a part of me for so long. But the predominant emotion is 'What am I going to do tomorrow?'"
Up at 8:40 for 4-way waffle, apple juice, coffee, raisin toast, cereal, peach yogurt. I'm staying here another day.
A beautiful day. Sent stuff to Penny then took a walk along the boardwalk (actually brick), a lot of boats and a big marina, a big rocky outcropping (Morro Rock), a local guitarist (Doug Macrae), a lot of businesses selling food and tee shirts and psychic gifts, The Shell Shop. Had a soft ice cream cone at Foster's, much better than Dairy Queen. Went back and traded CDs with Doug Macrae.
I drove out to Morro Rock, which is pretty impressive up close. The breakers are incredibly better than those at Ventura a couple of days ago and the sea gulls are fearless of man or car. Dinner was the other half of the meatball sub I couldn't finish last night. Later I had a slice of pizza from Sabetta's.
Thursday, January 28
In 1596, Sir Francis Drake was buried at sea.
Morro Bay to San Simeon
Didn't get up till 8:45. Same breakfast. 10:29, odometer 120274, temp 60. Albertson's, post office, $18.00 of $2.779 gas at Valero's before getting on Route 1 north. Rounded hills covered with green. 121 miles to Monterey. "Rich Man Poor Man Antiques Only in Cambria, Coastal Self Storage, Coastal Boot n Shoe," Orcas Street. Rounded green hills to right, ocean to left, with houses in between. Sky has a lot of cirrus in it, not much to the south.
Great waves coming in. I stop at several overlooks to watch the incredible breakers coming in, higher than ever. 11:09, scared up a white heron and a marmot and a couple of small sparrows. Sandpipers (spotted or least or maybe sanderlings) skitter among the gulls. It's a great day for suffers but there's none out in this area. "5 miles to Harmony Population 18." I'm in Harmony, but I don't know with what. A bunch of chubby long-billed birds pecking around the flotsam and driftward, godwits or curlews or whimbrels or willets or yellow-legs. A great pine forest at Cambria. Nitt Witt Ridge.
San Simeon at 12:06. Sea Breeze Inn at 12:16, temp 64, odometer 120302. Walked down to the beach where the breakers were high, no surfers. Even from my room you can hear them. They are very hypnotic--you see one coming in and you want to see if the next one is even better. A vulture down on the beach doing nothing until a wave comes in at its feet and it flies away. Canyons cut in these cliffs. 5 ducks, what may have been a pelican. Drove around San Simeon. Not much to it. 2 roads parallel to Route 1 on either side. Cloud cover to the south, clear to the north.
Went out for a pizza in Cambria but couldn't find the place. But on the drive back, oh, the stars! No light pollution at all, I can see all of Canis Major, all of Orion, all of Gemini, the Milky Way, oh God, incredible, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, the Big Dipper rising, Procyon, oddly enough not much in the west over the ocean, something bright in the ocean, the Great Square setting but I can't trace Andromeda.
Friday, January 29
In 1960, I left for NYU.
Up at 8:30. Corn flakes, 2 slices of toast, coffee, apple juice at the motel. Blue sky, cirrus clouds in the east, even more to the south, the sun shining through them.
Hearst Visitor center at 10:38, temp 62. Alex Trebek on CD on the 10-15 minute bus ride. Then the guide took us through guest bedrooms and sitting rooms, Hearst's bedroom with 4 lampshades made from medieval manuscripts and a portrait of his mother, Marion Davies' bedroom, the library and the Gothic study. After walking around the grounds awhile, past the outdoor and indoor pools, I took the bus back to Center around 1:00 to watch a movie about Hearst's life and the building of the castle, which Hearst called The Ranch. He had a castle in Ireland that he called The Castle. Adjusted for inflation, Hearst spent more in one month than Donald Trump is worth. Then I went the pier across from the castle at the William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, where the breakers are incredible.
Saturday, January 30
In 2004, I retired: "On the way in, I felt empty. On the way home, it felt like some kind of unreal fantasy."
San Simeon to Monterey
Up at 8:30. Apple juice, coffee, corn flakes, toast, Danish. Pretty much blue sky day, it had rained overnight. Paul Kantner died yesterday. 10:00, 61 degrees, odometer 120433. Sea Breeze Inn one of the best places I've stayed so far, large, one of best showers, good spray, easy to control mix. Only problem was lighting, with no light anywhere near the desk.
Guy out there hitchhiking, a lot of cirrus up ahead, a lot of clouds in the sky but mostly blue, the breakers breaking. This is just such beautiful territory, the sea not blue but green. Looks like an animal barn off to my right on the Hearst Ranch land. Black angus and brown angus, which is really red angus, as I learned yesterday on the tour. Mailed off a postcard to Penny.
Passed a lighthouse with a big rock.
Elephant seal viewing area. A lot of cars. I have to admit I was surprised. I didn't expect to see any seals but they were there, a noisy bunch, telling someone else "Don't bother me. This is my territory." There were several pups there too. Also a couple of white-crowned sparrows foraging underneath us.
Passed a lighthouse on a great big rock and a little hut of some kind to my left but fenced off so I couldn't reach it. Clouds slightly obscuring the mountains to my right, one with a line of pines on its crest. "Rock slide Area Next 60 miles," great trees, going up a curving road, ocean to my left. Blind curve. The sea below me is green but becomes blue further out with a definite demarcation line between the two. Las Padres National Forest at 11:07.
Monterey County line at 11:11. As I come up on Gorda, the sea now seems complete blue though there's a teal blue close to shore but there's no longer any definite demarcation. I have to wonder about the people who live here out in the middle of nowhere--how can they have anything like regular jobs? This road seems very tame compared to the one I remember from 50 years ago.
Gorda at 11:47. Generally speaking, you go around a headland and there's a slow curve around a bay to another headland, usually with a warning of possible rock slides, then do it all over again and there are lots of rocks in the ocean to take pictures of. Ground squirrel. Going down to the water's edge. Under a bridge, a lot of seagulls in a shallow water area, some of them bathing, a piece of an old road there. Pacific Valley at 12:08.
A long walk out to a fantastic rock. A lot of fantastic spray near it and a mess of cormorants and a lone seagull on another rock nearby. A long walk but well worth it. Double-crested cormorant, a Brandt's cormorant, or a pelagic cormorant.
Lime Kiln Creek. The New Camaldoli Hermitage. Lucia at 12:52. When I see guys pulled over with their ladies, I feel a bit of a pang, wanting to share this with someone. A large bridge, where I may have looked down 50 years ago and saw an upside-down car, though it was probably a different bridge then. A lot of cars pulled over at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Although the road isn't as scary as it was 50 years ago, it's widened out a bit but not much, easy lanes, the area is just as beautiful. A lot of mail boxes at a turnout with no Rock cliffs on one side, the ocean on the other, a bunch of headlands in front of me. It's wonderful. Another bunch of mailboxes after a wood fence. Some cumulus clouds out there over the ocean; at some places you can't tell where the ocean ends and the sky begins. A road going down to the beach; I'm not even tempted. A house way up there on a hill.
The Big Sur Inn at 1:42, the Henry Miller Library, a lot of cars at the Nepenthe Restaurant, Ocean View Dining, Ventana, Big Sur Bakery and Restaurants, Zucculents [sic], and a Shell station, Big Sur Deli Big Sur Taphouse. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. I stopped at the Ranger Station and talked to the lady behind the desk. $35 at the park; goodbye.
Tall thin pines on either side of the road, no longer anywhere near the shore. Ripplewood Cabins, the River Inn Motel, Captain Cooper's School. Back to the coast, still a bit of distance away, brown and white cattle browsing. Big rock out on the coastline with some kind of building on the top of it, some antennas, and a road you can see corkscrewing up it. Bixby Creek Bridge, 1932.
Carmel Highlands at 2:40. 2:49, back to the beach where the waves came in and drenched me 50 years ago. I thought I could hear sea lions barking then but I don't hear them now.
Monterey at 3:07, temp 56. Knights Inn, odometer 120431, very tiny room, no refrigerator. To Denny's for their steak skewer dinner, iced tea, and raspberry topped cake and ice cream.
Sunday, January 31
1992: "I walked to the end of the C&O Canal, slid down a muddy bank on my back."
For the first time on this trip, I changed motels while staying in the same area. I didn't care for the Knights Inn and the area didn't have much in the way of businesses so I moved to the Econolodge on Fremont Street and I'm glad I did. This is one of the very best places I've stayed (and inexpensive)--large room, good lighting in the areas where I need it, refrigerator, plenty of counter space (even more than I need). The only thing I don't know yet is how good the shower is. And it's on the same street where Denny's is, where I ate last night.
Up at 8:40, on a rainy day, though not raining hard. Corn flakes, 2 Danish pastries, coffee, apple juice at the motel. Leaving at 10:27, temp 48, the rain having stopped.
I couldn't check in to the Econolodge that early so I had to kill a couple of hours. An English muffin and coffee at Denny's, which was next to a small storefront theatre (the Paperwing Theatre), similar to the old Fells Point Theatre in Baltimore, probably amateur, not playing anything till the middle of next month, when they're doing The Tempest. A cafe latte at the Press Club Cafe.
Finally got into the Econolodge at 2:00. In the evening, I went back to Denny's for a pot roast melt. It's extremely windy--although my car says it's 52, it feels a lot colder. The woman at the counter said she's lived here all her life and she can't remember it being this cold at this time of year.
Well, I found a few problems. Water pressure is low, which is annoying. Worse yet, the internet goes through periods of being very slow or refusing to connect with anything else without telling me that I need to reload their site.
Monday, February 1
In 1971, I saw Ray Wooding for the last time.
Up around 8 for Rice Krispies, bagel and cream cheese, banana, coffee, apple juice, hard boiled egg. A day to relax and try to figure out where everything is and what comes next.
Had stomach cramps last night but didn't throw up, a little diarrhea this morning, and belching during the day. After buying some groceries, I went for a walk and saw a western scrub jay.
In the evening, I had a French dip at Grandma's Kitchen. Not all that great.
Tuesday, February 2
1977: "There was a beautiful vista of the morning mist in the distant valleys, like a Japanese painting."
Monterey to Mill Valley
Up between 8 and 8:30, corn flakes, bagel and cream cheese, apple juice coffee. A misty rainy day. On the road at 10:04, temp 49, odometer 120458. $20.50 worth of $2.179 gas at the Alliance before getting on California Route 1 north at 10:18. Rain was on and off for the next 30-40 minutes, never very hard.
Not much to see--houses off to my right, sand dunes and ocean a little distance off to my left. 10:28, the ocean no longer visible, farmland on both sides of the highway, a girdered railroad bridge. Watsonville, Santa Cruz, leaving Route 1 for route 156 to route 101. Castroville and Salinas, Castroville Artichoke Capitol of the World. Onto 101 north at 10:37. San Benito County, mostly country, short cypress-type trees, a big rock on my left, rock cut, hills, very country now, hills shrouded with cloud, mist in the air, long tall trees going up and up before branches with foliage on them. 10:53, Santa Clara County, a hillside with cows on my left, farms to the right. Gilroy, Garlic Capital--Open The Garlic Shoppe, Rapazzine Winery, Ralph's Cherry Hut, Gilroy's Best Cherries and Strawberries, The Cherry Shack Cherries Apricots Strawberries, Garlic World Gourmet Foods, Garlic Farm Shopping Center.
Silicon Valley Boulevard at 11:14, suddenly I realize we have blue sky, clouds behind us, and I have no idea when this happened. 11:24 into Santa Clara, surrounded by apartment buildings, office buildings, back into city territory. Passed NASA Ames Research Center at 11:32, Quonset type building huge with pipes as cross pieces, many of them. Los Altos, Palo Alto, Stanford University. 11:53--airplanes taking off from the San Francisco airport, a China Eastern airliner alongside the highway, the sky now filled with cumulus clouds, completely socked in to the east, San Bruno. Good old Daly City. Cow Palace, Candlestick Park, crossing water, Candlestick Point. San Francisco City and County, population 793,700 at 12 noon. Bay Bridge, interstate 80, 1:01.
No room at the Travelodge in Berkley and couldn't find America's Best Value Inn in Berkley so it was off to America's Best Value Inn in Mill Valley, $5 toll at the John F. McCarthy Bridge, Marin County Line, blue sky again with some cumulus which seem to be accumulating on the horizon. I-580 to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to 101 to America's Best Value Inn in Mill Valley at 1:45,temp 54, odometer 120616, over $100.
In the evening, I went to the No Name Bar in Sausalito. I had trouble finding it and had to go back to the motel for better directions on the internet (it was a very short distance from the motel) so I got there around 8:30, when it was supposed to start and I was at the end of a long list. It didn't actually start until after 9. Some very impressive performers, including a guy on autoharp and a guy who looked like Paul Simon and played fine guitar but had a weak voice and numerous guitarists and a rapper. I did my usual 3 songs and the waitress said I was "talented" and "awesome."
Wednesday, February 3
1959: Buddy Holly, Richie Havens, and The Big Bopper died in an airplane crash.
Mill Valley to Berkeley
Up at 9, 10:32, 50 degrees, odometer 120367. A couple of Danish at the motel, coffee, and juice. Burrie and I went back and forth on the phone several times before we connected and talked for about half an hour before I had to leave. $12 of $2.099 gas. Hillsides well-peopled with houses. 101 to Sir Francis Drake to Route 580, no toll going this way. A bright day, a lot of clouds ahead of me (east), some blue behind me. The Golden Gate Ferry. Off at Buchanan to San Pablo to America's Best Value Inn, which had no rooms available yet at 11.
I walked around the area where the Cafe Royale is located until 11:45 then I went in and waited for her. I recognized her as soon as she smiled though it was a wan shadow of her old smile. She's stocky but not fat or even chubby and her hair is gray. She has 17 cats (some of which are recovering from surgery--she does volunteer work at a place where they neuter cats). We talked fairly easily, I thought, and she recognized my sense of humor immediately. (She seems to have aged more than 12 years. I was no longer in love with her as I was so quickly when we remet 12 years ago.)
Then I checked into the motel around 1:30 and walked around the area. There doesn't seem to be an open mike in Berkeley tonight. I bought a minipizza at a restaurant next to the motel.