Great White North Summer 2k4

This year I decided it was time to do a proper vacation. Don’t get me wrong, Long Island is great, but I yearned for a real road trip, like those of my youth.

The ‘rents were doing the Trans-Canada rail tour, which would terminate in Vancouver for a 4-night layover. I had visited Vancouver before and knew it was the shizz,, so plans were hatched for a road trip from sunny SD to the wiles of the Pacific Northwest, via the 101 – 1.

In order to max out fun time, I decided to rent a car on the way up and fly down. We would camp along the way and then spend 4 nights in a hotel in downtown Van.

Day 1: Friday, July 9
Task one was procuring the rental. After a few false starts tracking down ‘rental car access road’, I wheeled into the bustling Hertz rental mecca.

I had reserved a sporty Ford Focus, knowing that twisty roads would be the norm. I was pleased to be upgraded as a freebie to a ‘sporty 2-door’ Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the same price. The Monte is a somewhat cumbersome lummox with big wheels and shiny gold paint. The V6 motor had plenty of power, and the leather seating was comfortable, by most accounts.

The Monte handles like a bicycle in 6 inches of water. The hyper-assisted poweer steering and ultra plushed out suspension make the car dip and push under accelleration. At 80-90 MPH the Monte had the distinct sensation of a boat swooning.

It actually handles most of the twisty sections admirably, but a smaller car would have been crisper in the turns.

Anyway, leaving SD, our first destination was Montana De Oro state park in Los Osos, California, near San Luis Obisbo.

Ruthless traffic in SD and LA caused us to question how anyone could tolerate living in Los Angeles. 8PM traffic jam on the 101 South (into the valley). Huh?

After a brief pitstop for fajitas in Santa Barbara, I barely was awake enough to track down our campsite, pitch the tentin the dark, and crawl in for some z’s.

Day 2, Saturday, July 10
After a somewhat chilly but not uncomfortable stay in the oceanside state park, we headed into SLO for bagels and coffee.

Unable to find a bagel spot, Starbucks was located, and bathroom routines commenced. Unfortunately for me, a homeless nutcase with the shits practically knocked down the door, interrupting my leisurly morning rituals. Coffee in hand, we hit the road again.

We hit Big Sur, checking the sights and putting the Monte through it’s paces on the turns. SUV drivers ran for the turnouts as they tried to lumber their monster trucks through 140 degree hairpins.

We were continuously amazed at the amount of people who actually live up there, houses clinging to the cliffsides, with not a Target in sight.

Next stop was Moneterey, CA, for some clam chowder on the ol’ stinky pier. We managed to sit next to a white trash family who’s normal volume of speech would be considered by most to be yelling.

A heavy jam session by a toupee & tuxedo-clad entertainer was goin’ down as we split the scene.

Next stop was the great SF city with a nice cruise through good ol’ Silicon Valley. Dreams of the Sand Hill road fluttered through my head as we drove through. “ooh, there Oracle – look that’s Seibel”.

Our accomodations were the luxurious Marriot in downtown SF. Thank you Priceline! Although we were toasty from the road we managed to hit up some shopping and tool around the city for a bit before turning in.

Day 3, Sunday, July 11
THe AM started with a crosstown jaunt to the Haight for some cafe and bagels.

The Haight is still asleep at 10AM on a Sunday, so we grabbed some coffee and checked out a few of the freaky shops. I stopped into FTC skateshop’s new, boutique-style location and got plenty of attitude. “yeah bro, we got exclusive rights to photograph the whole thing…” was overheard as we departed.

We fueled up, and grabbed the 101 as we headed out of town and over the Golden Gate.

Our next stop was good ol’ Ukiah, California, a mildly decrepit outpost of civilization in the the pre-redwoods. Alas, the entire town was closed, so we stopped into a CrackDonalds for a piss and some fries before heading up to the Redwoods.

Within a couple hours we were on the Avenue of the Giants, chillin’ with the big trees, enjoying the quiet, and commenting on the abundance of broken down school buses in people’s front yards.

That night we camped in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, just at the entrance to the treacherous and desolate Mattole Road, gateway to NorCals’ ‘Lost Coast’.

Stay Tuned for more!