Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Blue Mesa

I went grocery shopping this morning and as I was checking out the cashier commented on my Petrified Forest National Park t-shirt, because it had a Route 66 logo on it. I told her that I had just returned from California via the Mother Road and she said that she really wanted to drive that road sometime. The bagger chimed in saying that he also wanted to travel Route 66. I told them how dry it is in the west and how green Missouri looks by comparison, but their wanderlust must have made the grass out west look greener than here at home. Still, it was a great trip. It was great seeing my family and all of the sights that we saw along the way.

Pictured is a panorama of the Blue Mesa, which is a formation in the middle of the park, in a part where the geology is transitioning from the northern Painted Desert portion of the park to the southern Petrified Forest part. Blue Mesa featured both types of geology, painted desert and petrified forest, but if you ask me, it looks more purple than blue. The day that we visited was also a red flag day, because the wind was blowing so hard. There was one section of trail, up on top of the mesa that had steep drop-offs on both sides of the trail and I was afraid that we would get blown off the mesa.

As I said, our trip out to California and back was a great vacation, but let’s not dwell on the past too long. Too this end, Anne has prepared a spreadsheet to help organize this summer’s cabin vacation. The gathering of the clan will soon be underway. Our cabin will be at capacity this summer, with thirteen people there all at one time. It should be glorious. 

Orange Monsters

Orange Barrel Monster

We did it! Made it out to California and back home again, all in one piece. We logged almost 6,000 miles in our new RAV4. It is a 2018, but it still feels new to us. We call it the Nanny Car, because it is always squawking about one thing or another: “That car is too close!”, “Stay in your lane!” and “Lookout for that pedestrian!” You get the idea, but we learned yesterday that it is not only a nanny, but it is also a bit of a tattle-tale. The day after its odometer clocked 15,000 miles, we got a call from the Toyota dealer, asking us when we would like to schedule maintenance appointment. The car had called it in, not content to simply nag us via Nice And Gentle reminders on its display panel, it had to phone it in to the mother ship. 

Pictured is a bit of sculpture that was displayed at the Missouri welcome center, just inside the Oklahoma state line, along I-44. It addition to this orange effigy, this rest stop also sported a wall full of license plates, featuring all fifty states. On this trip, Anne has been playing the license plate game. She has already won one game, scoring three Hawaii’s, including two parked next to each other. She has almost won a second game, missing only a few, small east coast states. I’m looking at you Joe Biden. You need to get more of your home state residents out on the road. I tried to convince Anne to fill out her dance card, using the wall of plates, but she wasn’t having any of it.

In our travels, we certainly saw plenty of road construction. If I had a dollar for every orange barrel I saw, I would be rich, but now that I’m back home, I would like to make a political comment. We have certainly spent plenty of time in Trump country, although, as we were driving into New Mexico, I saw a billboard that announced, “I’m Riding with Biden.” After being booted off both Facebook and Twitter, the Donald attempted to run a blog, but Trump’s blog failed, bigly and in only 29 days. That’s less than three Scaramuccis. Sad. On counterpoint, while traveling, I have successfully logged thirteen years of continuous blogging.

I knew I should have made that left turn

Mariscos Altamar

Quoting Bugs Bunny, I knew I shoulda made ‘at left toin at Albakoikie. In Albuquerque, we ate dinner at a New Mexican restaurant called Mariscos Altamar, which means offshore seafood. I had their suviche, while Anne had a chicken enchilada, which might have been the wiser choice, being here in the desert. Yesterday, when we arrived in Barstow, it was 102, which even for a dry heat is still pretty toasty. Today, it was 82, which actually felt a bit nippy after dinner. We made 671 miles today, which after yesterday, puts us about halfway home. Two more days to go and they should be easier than today.

Turkish Pots

One of Jackie’s Turkish Pots

This visit our nightly TV regimen begins every evening with episodes of Rick Steves’ travel show, before moving on to our more mundane thirst for murder mysteries. The first one about Paris mentioned the Moulin Rouge. I was surprised to learn that it was still in existence and that Dad had even seen Josephine Baker perform there in 1949. I learned a new phrase, léchage de fenêtre, which means window licking, not to be confused with the British usage of this phrase, here in America it synonymous with window shopping. Another show set in Scotland emphasized the legendary Scottish frugality. In Edinburgh, the castle there fires its big gun everyday to set the clocks of all of the ships in the harbor, at one instead of noon, saving the frugal Scots eleven rounds. We Englishmen enjoyed Anne’s bit of disquiet with Rick’s gentle ribbing. All of this travel showing has excited my wanderlust and I look forward to exploring Europe. Today was weigh-in day and even though we both only loss about half-a-pound each, it still felt like a victory, after spending a week living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. We celebrated at Katy’s in Carmel, Anne had an omelet, Dad had pancakes and I had an eggs Benedick over Dungeness crab. We also toured mom an dad’s first house here in Monterey. They paid $13.5K. Zillow now has it as almost a million. While we were inspecting the property, the home owner showed up and toured us around the yard. When my parents bought the property, it had been stripped bare of trees, but when we viewed the house, it was covered with large trees. What a difference a lifetime makes.

San Francisco – Day 2

Riggenbach’s reed frog

Monday was our big day in San Francisco. We had snagged a primo parking spot, just outside our garden apartment’s gate, which made offloading the vehicle pretty easy. Not wanting to give up that spot, we left the car there today, as we went walk about. In the morning, we headed downhill, knowing at the end of the day that we would have to walk back up that hill or take an Uber. We headed to Golden Gate Park, San Francisco’s version of Central Park or closer to home, Forest Park. Everything was so green. Probably because the marine layer was misting most of the morning. Our first stop was the San Francisco Botanical Garden, where with reciprocity, we got in for free with our MoBot membership. It was a beautiful garden, smaller and denser than the Saint Louis one. We enjoyed it until noon. At which point we headed south out of the park and snagged some lunch at “LaLe”, a cosmopolitan eatery, with some French flare, but also basic American cuisine. I had lunch with a chicken wrap, while Anne had breakfast with a Seattle frittata. Recharged, we reentered the park and headed to the California Academy of Science, because the art museum was closed and it was still cold out. We spent the rest of the afternoon there and closed the place. There are two huge spheres in the museum. We toured the first, which was a recreation of the Amazon jungle. The second ball was the planetarium, which we had a reservation for, but technical difficulties caused a cancelation of our show. I suspect that the marine layer clouded it over again. Which was just as well, because I was kind of scienced out by then and the museum closed shortly later. The museum also has a nice aquarium, which since we won’t be able to visit the aquarium in Monterey, was a good substitute. On the way back to our apartment, we stopped off for dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant. We got their hot pots. The center of the table was opened for a foot diameter boiling pot of broth. Actually, two broths, one chicken, which we loved, but the other spicy, which was too much for us. We ordered about half-a-dozen ingredients to throw into the boiling pot. Utensils included one solid ladle for the broth and two strainer ladles to scoop up the ordered ingredients. We also each got a small plate and a small bowl, about the size of a cabin ice cream bowl. When we asked for utensils, we got chopsticks. It was a long and, in the end, very Weight Watchers friendly dinner, but also very educational. We did end up walking back up the hill to the apartment.