Tuesday, September 7, 2010
A Short lived trip through Cali
Ok, I knew all that gloating about our cool weather escapades would come back to bite me, and it has. We are working our way through the scalding heat of the desert. Is that the sweet sound of satisfaction I hear in your laugh? I feel like my feet are frying inside my shoes. My poor dogs are tap dancing across the dusty rocks, in an effort to avoid sizzling their paws and are taking the quickest potty stops in history. I used to be worried they could get loose and run off. Now it’s a mad race back to the cool A/C of the motor home, they beat me every time.
Since our journey was a little delayed by our extended “vacation” in Alabama at the outset of the trip we knew that somewhere we would have to cut the journey a little short. We fell in love with South Dakota, Montana & Oregon, and on those I can confidently say we did not skimp. But, the land of Cali got passed over like a platter of brussel sprouts at a Thanksgiving dinner. Our search for Bigfoot came up empty handed, much to my prediction, my husband’s dissatisfaction. We attempted to stay for a while north of San Francisco – which I have always wanted to visit. But it was not meant to be.
Ever have those days where more things go sour than sweet? That was our San Francisco adventure. The RV park claimed to be “Big Rig friendly”, in truth it was more like a sardine box for Mini Coopers. I stood in the road waving my arms like I was landing a plan as Torben attempted to maneuver the rolling mother ship down the narrow and unforgiving streets. We hooked a picnic table and oh so unpleasantly scratched/dented/fubared a side panel. You can practically hear my husband cursing can’t you?
For those of you who know about his frustration scale; he was at a full F.F.S. For the rest of you, over the years myself and others have charted Torben’s irritability by the level of words he chooses to use and put together. (Forewarning: Adult language ahead!) A mild annoyance, like a mosquito bite you can’t reach, will warrant an eye roll and a single curse word [shit]. Waiting in a long unpleasant line earns a more extended phrase [It’s not rocket science you stupid bastard], while Gator games really torque it up a notch [stupid cock-sucker & crazy son-of-a-bitch]. The winner of the prize cursing competition is always traffic. It helps my husband profess the most provocative combination of words that would make even the most die hard Harley rider suck in a breath. I don’t believe he coined the phrase, but believe me, he has made it his own [Oh, For Fuck’s Sake!]. He’s not a rude or offensive person by nature, but when the limits of his patience are within sight it is best to have a set of ear plugs handy. So as you can imagine I was cringing and thinking of what to tell him as I was the first to survey the damage done to the motor home. The people in the park were watching like a receiving line and got great humor out of watching me mouth the words I thought he would use and hearing his rants on cue. Shining moment for the Madsons, we represent well.
The day continued to improve as we bid adieu to that park and searched for another,not that easy to find a place to park our home, unfortunately. We actually drove the bus over the Golden Gate Bridge, got a glimpse at Alcatraz and San Quentin in the Bay, drove through a white-out of fog, then learned we needed to pay a toll. No problem, if you’re a car. If you happen to be a bus, they charge you per axle, we have five, and we usually don’t carry much cash. I send a heart-felt apology to the poor cars behind us who had to wait 20 minutes until I searched and scrounged up enough change to pay that toll. Patience still thinning, but the day’s not over yet….
Into downtown San Francisco…was this our planned route? I didn’t think so, given the large sum of traffic, ill-timed stop lights, hilly streets and pedestrians. Driving this bus isn’t the most difficult thing, stopping it is. And there was one stubborn bicyclist who almost became road putty. He refused to leave the street. He wasn’t riding, just straddling his bike and defiantly shaking his head as we barreled through the intersection. I’m convinced he had a suicide wish. Marvelously, Torben shifted lanes without taking out any other cars and the stupid bastard (*see above) survived. So, that was about the extent of our trip in California. We’re about 60 miles outside of Nevada.We actually did do a little sightseeing in between cursings. We took an obligatory drive out to Pebble Beach, a place my father and all fellow golf enthusiasts refer to as “sacred ground”, and drove down Highway 1, through Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Scary roads on peaks that plummet into the sea. Sea lions that bark and stink to high heaven. Lovely. Glad we did it. Totally could have skipped the traffic en route.
Torben is my connoisseur of quirky things and has a book on haunted hikes/places to visit (have I mentioned it?). We were advised to tour the Winchester Mystery House. Weird does not begin to describe it. Sarah Winchester, widow to the rifle company giant and sole recipient of his estate built her house on over 160 acres of land, that’s about 80,000 square feet. She was apparently haunted by the unhappy ghosts of the people who died facing down the barrels of the lethal Winchester rifles. Her psychic told her the only way to have peace was to build a house that confused the spirits. So she did, for 30-some years, non-stop, 24 hours a day. There are over 100 rooms, three elevators, 42 fireplaces, and of course, 13 bathrooms. Thirteen was her magic number and can be seen in the number of candelabras on the chandeliers, in stained glass gems, etc., 13 is everywhere. Records state that the moment she finished one room, she would tear it down only to rebuild so that it would unknown to the spirits. She slept in a different room every night, much to the confusion of her servants. There are staircases that go to the ceiling, windows on the floor, closet doors that open to brick walls, secret passages, doors with knobs only on one side and a host of other oddities. There is also a room to nowhere that literally drops thirty feet out into the garden. She was very meticulous about the work and money was not a problem for her, so the wood work carvings, the stained glass, the molding on the ceilings were exquisite. Theodore Roosevelt heard of her construction and attempted to visit her estate, but he “did not have an appointment” and she refused to let him in the front door, instead she scolded him and told him to use the rear door, like all of her servants. Not surprisingly, he was a little offended and left without ever stepping foot inside. Aside from being more than a little disturbed, she was also brilliant and engineered running water and irrigation, electricity and an indoor buggy wash, which was unheard of at the turn of the century. The next time you go to wash your car and use the sprayer/wand that rotates from the ceiling, say a word of gratitude toward Sarah Winchester and her ingenuity, and perhaps a prayer that her soul may finally rest in peace, clearly she found none while living.
Well, that’s all she wrote folks. A little gift of brevity in contrast to the last enduring epic I posted…. Until next time….We’re headed to VEGAS baby! I’ll write again when we hit the jackpot or lose all our money, whichever comes first. Any bets?