Friday, October 12, 2012

Here we are again. 

After extensive posting from Oaxaca two years ago, we made only one post last year from Mérida. However, this year, we will try to post every 3-5 days. Each day when we remember it, we plan on posting our cumulative mileage and miles per gallon as we head towards Mérida, Yucatán. We will try to keep it interesting with comments and photos.

Please feel free to post your comments!

A few days before we left home, a fire destroyed a trailer home in "downtown" Potter Valley. It was said to house a meth lab, and two people were killed in the blaze. Here's the view from just above our home down into the valley.  It was a shock to those of us who live there.

Here are some nicer views around home now with the changing fall colors of poison oak:

Friday, 2012-10-05: Viveca's Birthday and our departure for Mérida  Thank you to many friends and family members for your well-wishes and cheery send-off.

Though we intended to leave in the early morning, we finally left home and Mendocino County in the late afternoon after a false start, necessitating a return home from Ukiah, to pick up some forgotten essentials. This was appropriate penance and suffering--the consequences of much recent procrastination on our part.

Except for briefly getting lost on the way to our hotel south of San Francisco that night, the trip south was uneventful.

Saturday, 2012-10-06: 
236 miles/51 mpg

We woke up early today so that we could meet with Jay and drive him to his gig at San Francisco bay where he is cooking for the America's Cup and Blue Angel airshow event. He showed us his federal identification badge for the event. It, apparently, is a high-security thing and he needed clearance in order to be there.

After that, we went to have dim sum in San Francisco on Geary Blvd. Here's a picture of the pea vine shoots that were served with the dim sum. Yum!

We watched the blue Angels perform from a nice vantage point on Treasure Island. 

Most exciting was a Flying Wing that I think is a stealth bomber. It looked like a huge, dark manta ray and was very quiet until it got very close to us. There were no markings on it, and edge on it was nearly impossible to see. Quite spooky and it stole the show. Did you know that the Blue Angels are covered with a special paint that is used only on these aircraft?

There was the ubiquitous commercial intrusion into the Blue Angels' airspace.

After a quick stop in Berkeley to get our new spectacles adjusted, we headed south and wound up in Santa Nella, California, the home of Anderson's famous (but way too salty) split pea soup.

Sunday; 2012-10-07: 
582 mi/49.6 mpg

Once again we were off to a late start. We didn't leave Santa Nella in Merced County until 11:30 in the morning. However, before we left we did get to go to the neatest cemetery we've seen in a long time. It was the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.

The cemetery included a memorial to California Submarine Veterans who lost their lives in submarines, and to the submarines that were lost. Each tree had a plaque indicating the name of the sub and when it was sunk. You can just barely see the small stone with  plaque at the base of the first tree.

 The place was completely deserted except for one man sitting on a bench.

Here is a link to some other views.

After that, we headed south and witnessed two accidents on I-5. One was near the top of the Tejon Pass, just north of LA and the other was a little bit later. The first one involved a man on the ground from a motorcycle wreck, but fortunately, we saw that he got up and off the highway before he could be run over. A big relief!

We will spend the night in Beaumont, California, about an hour west of Palm Springs.

The drive from here to the Texas border with Mexico in Laredo will be almost entirely on I-10.

Monday; 2012-10-07: 
1161 mi/49.4 mpg

We woke up in Beaumont, California and drove by the wind farms.  What an inspiring sight.

We met with (Richard's first cousin) David Novick and his wife, Linda, for a brief but lovely breakfast and nostalgia hour at Goody's. After breakfast, we headed east for Tucson and visited the houses where Richard visited his maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in 1952. It brought back fond memories for Richard.

We drove on to Benson, Arizona to spend the night.

Tuesday & Wednesday; 2012-09&10-10: including overnights in Van Horn, TX, and Junction, TX.
1601 mi/48.6 mpg & 1935mi/47.8 mpg [the speed limit in Texas is often 80 mph and driving at 75-80 mph does reduce our gas mileage!]

At breakfast in the Motel in Benson, Richard overheard, and then joined this conversation:
Stuffy & over-stuffed woman [SO-sw] (in a huffy tone of voice to the ~18-year-old female breakfast room attendant): Where do I register a complaint?
Attendant (sweetly): Well, you could write it down and give it to the front desk.
Richard (butting in with a smile and a pleasant, but authoritative tone of voice: You could just tell me!
SO-sw (indignantly to A, while trying not to admit R's presence in the conversation): “I'll just tell you.”
A (without a shred of annoyance in her tone of voice): What is it?
SO-sw: Well! I've been traveling for ten days and this is the worst cutlery I've ever had to use.
(sweetly): What's cutlery?
SO-sw (quite annoyed): What do you mean, “What's cutlery?” It's what you eat with!
A (assertively): I know what “cutlery” is! What's wrong with it?
SO-sw (exasperated): It's too flimsy!
A (sweetly, again): Oh!?
[This is now sounding like a scene from a Marx Brother's movie, but it was cut short because the SO-sw then gave up and goose-stepped off in a huff.]
R (persistently curious): Have you ever had a complaint about the plastic forks like that before?
A (casually): Oh yes! We get them all the time.
R (incredulous that he was having this conversation, but continuing because it was much better than the breakfast): What else do they complain of?
A (firmly): They complain about the noose?
R: The “noose?”
A (slightly annoyed for the first time): The noose.
R: What is “the noose”?
A (now, distinctly annoyed): You know, the news.
Groucho Marx: “Who's on first?”

We stopped for a nice Chinese buffet lunch and saw this burned-out motel next door:

Kind of like the state of the Union, or is it just the State of Texas?

Though Texas does have some nice scenery:

. . . and at dinner, we saw that in Texas, they mean business:

. . . and have the country's smallest chairs:

. . . and we now know how they get their meat! (Are “exotics” something like “road-kill”?)

So after an inedible dinner, which Pattie donated in a Doggie Bag to a stray cat,

in Junction Texas, we settled in for the night. Our Days Inn Motel here does have a very nice panoramic view of a river and I-10.

Thursday; 2012-11-10: driving from Van Horn, TX to Laredo, TX.
2188 mi/47.0 mpg

A beautiful drive today, which included a shortcut off the Interstate, under a beautiful cover of huge cumulus clouds.

Now that we're just a few miles from the USA–Mexico border and we have the opportunity to talk with white and Mexican-American folks here, we keep hearing that we shouldn't' go across the border. When we ask where the best place to cross is, they uniformly say, “Nowhere! There is no safe place!” Many people here proudly say that they've lived their entire lives here and they've never crossed the border.  A helpful lady in the Chamber of Commerce in a small town even told us that the police were turning back all Americans at the border. Not true.

Nevertheless, as we sit here in our comfortable hotel room in Laredo with the Vice Presidential debate in the background, we plan on an early crossing into Columbia, Mexico, tomorrow morning and have made a reservation to stay in Saltillo, Mexico, tomorrow. It sounds like a beautiful city, founded in 1575, with a university and fine museums,  We are hoping to arrive in time to see some of the local sights.

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