Surfing

My absolute favorite thing to do when I was a kid growing up in Manhattan Beach was dive under those waves, I could spend all day in the water.  The best feeling for me was still having that salt and sand all over me when I got out, I never even rinsed off.  There was rarely a time I even brought a brush to the beach with me.  Having salt mixed with sand either walking or riding my bike home felt so good!  My grade school was right up the hill from the water, we had a pact to go in the water every single day one year.  That’s my memory of it, not sure if we did it or not?  I’d wait for my hair to dry at my friend’s house (my parents didn’t know), then run down Sand Dune park hill to get home.

I had a few water toys growing up, a styrofoam wave rider thingy and an itchy surf mat.   When I was really little, my mom would put us on the surf mat to get us across the hot sand and pull the rope.  Boogie boards came out when I was in middle school, they were actually kits you had to buy duct tape to put them together.  Then the boys starting surfing, girls not allowed.  This could be due to the fact that the boys weren’t very good yet and didn’t want the girls to actually know that.  Right before we made that puberty transition, I was still one of the boys with my boogie board.  We were all at the pier, two of my guy friends dared me to go in when the waves were big, so I went for it.  Of course I was pummeled, when I came in though they both said they never would have gone out!!  They both became pro surfers at some point in their lives.

What was unfortunate timing for me was short board popularity, long boards were not cool in the ’70’s, no one wants to be labeled a “kook.”  I was asked by the local surf shop to join the boogie board team…ummmm, no thanks.  That just sounded so wimpy compared to surfing.  I wanted to stand up!  I just couldn’t on a short board.

In my attempts to surf, I was lucky to hang out with a group of kids for a time with dads who were longboard surfers.  I did a lot of pearling, the timing of Manhattan Beach waves with a longboard is not the greatest either.  They’re quick waves, with a boogie board I could take off while the wave was curling.  On a longboard, you take off at the swell and paddle hard.  If there’s already a curl, it’s just going to push the nose straight down.  Since there was no formal instruction, besides a beginning book in the library (I’d put guys names in as if they checked it out as a joke), I did a whole lot of pearling.  I did have some success when my friend took the helm.  He’d be at the back of the board to take it so I could crawl up tandem.  It was a fun summer, before my BF dumped me and I had to switch steets.

I gave up until after I graduated from college, when I was working at a swimwear store in Santa Monica Canyon.  The local guys there adopted me as their own and came by with a board for me after work.  They put me on a 9′ board, I hopped up right away.  One thing I always knew how to do was paddle and wave motion.  The waves at State Beach were a lot easier than Manhattan Beach, plus I had the support of a bunch of Malibu surfers who were impressed I could even paddle.  I was hooked!!  I bought a board and tried to surf every day.  I made a mistake though, I went from a 9′ board with the intention of getting better to go back to a short board at some point.  Same fatal mistake I made from when I was younger.  I bought a shorter board and couldn’t even get up…because by that time I was 5’9″ with a really slow hop up.  I switched jobs too, I started working at Nordstrom getting me off the beach.

That Christmas, I went surfing with my brother and his friends.  I was able to get past the break, then they would take off and I heard our friend screaming down the wave.  I thought, “I have no business out here if he’s scared.”  I waited for the lull and went in.

That summer I met my husband, moved to NorCal and quit surfing.  I became a suburban mom and took up golf, a sport that doesn’t require speed or a quick hop up.

When our boys were grown, for my 50th my husband asked what have I always wanted to do?  I said, “I’ve always really wanted to learn how to surf.”  He found a women’s surf retreat for me, Kristy Murphy’s surf retreats.  The first one I went to was in Mexico, I’ve also been to the Costa Rica and Hawaii retreats.  She gave me this soft board that was about 11′??  I affectionally called it the “Beastie board,” I couldn’t carry it alone.  I could barely paddle it once it got a little water logged.  What I could do was get up on it right away, my first ride in 20 plus years was an audience of legendary women surfers paddling out hooting at me.  What a welcome!!  I didn’t know who they were at the time, I found out at a party afterward.  Before the party, I PM’d one of my surfer friends with the names to see who they were.

At the party, I talked mainly to this woman Zuef.  Zuef was married to Frosty of “Mavericks” fame.  She talked about what it was like to be a step-mom to girls who had lost their mom while they were young.  This was before the movie came out, I didn’t know much about Frosty or that his first wife had died.  Zuef was battling bone cancer herself, their girls trip to Mexico was in her honor while she was still alive.  A few years later, she lost her battle too.  One of the take aways from that was how she had told me she could tell I had a great heart, I’ll always remember that observation by her of me when I’m down.  Other attendee’s were Linda Benson and Heather Hudson of “Women and the Waves” movies.

I continued going to these retreats for a few years, posting shamelessly on FB.  A friend from MB finally asked to join me on a Costa Rica trip.  One thing about growing up in MB that was hard is that everyone’s super model thin plus a killer athlete.  I’m a half ass athlete, no comparison to the girls I grew up with.  She had surfed with her dad as a kid, played Div 1 volleyball in college, I knew I’d be a little jealous.  Sure enough, she out surfed me after 2 shaky waves.  I felt like chopped liver, that I sucked.

Since that first trip, we went on quite a few others.  Some of my best waves were at a ranch in Mexico we took a boat to, that was a fun day!  I surfed really well for me.  Another was a right I caught in Hawaii, it seemed so effortless and went on forever.  I out paddled my friend for a wave and Kristy told me about it later.  I can’t see without my glasses, I didn’t even know she was going for it?  I’m a wimp, I’ll let the “better surfer” get the wave.  Her attitude towards the whole thing was that she didn’t think I’d get it, so she went for it.  She said that to me a few times, “I knew you wouldn’t get it”  as her apology for cutting me off… What a friend.

The last 3 times I’ve gone have been mini-disasters for one reason or another.  Hawaii was a huge storm and WAY too big for me.  I won’t go out if it’s too big, I have a healthy fear of mother nature.  I surfed 2 days of that trip.

The next time was in Mexico where the biggest bitch on the face of the earth happened to be.  She was an emergency room Dr. who deemed me irrelevant.  She was also “off duty,” I got tourista and broke my ribs.  I don’t mean “off duty” as a Dr., I mean as a human being.  When I came down in the morning to say that I couldn’t surf, I crawled back to bed for a day of pain from my ribs and passing out.  The morning was the only time I was even able to make it downstairs, we were the only ones staying at the Casita.  She never knocked on my door to see if I needed water, or was alive.  Kristy finally saved me with some gatorade and crackers that night or I wouldn’t have woken up the next morning.  Less people in the line up for the Dr. I guess?  God I hated that woman!  If we went to HS together I would have put her name in that library book as a kook.  I don’t care if you went to med school, if you talk down to people as non-existant then brag about hook ups on Tinder, I’m not going to like you more than you don’t like me.

My last attempt was almost 2 years ago now.  I went to Costa Rica with my friend and her now wife.  It was a few months after the Mexico fiasco, I guess my ribs hadn’t healed?  All went well until I had a minor fall forward, like a belly flop.  That’s what happened the first time, I figured I must have hit the board to do that kind of damage?  I never went to the Dr. though for x-rays, wasn’t even sure if I broke them?  I was out for the rest of the trip, it was such a bummer.  Then, of all things, I lost my drone 😦  I brought it down to film Kristy when she caught a mile long wave.  I designated my friends W as a spotter, but she was spotting my friend and not the drone.  Not to blame her, just that it was super annoying when I saw the palm leaf come up when I backed it up to see where it went.  I would have just pressed the home button, but I didn’t have enough battery to pop it back up and she wanted some footage of A.  I was looking through the FPV, not paying attention to the drone at all.  Never found it, everyone was pissed at me and suddenly drone experts.  The rest of the trip was painful ribs and me being the 5th wheel who was useless because I lost my drone.

So my surfing life might end?  When I did get back, I got the X-rays and a bone density test.  I have Osteopenia, which wouldn’t matter much if I didn’t do an extreme sport.  I’ve always been so strong, that’s been the hardest part of aging for me.  Never fast, always strong.  It took me forever to realize my weak points as an athlete.

I might try again, I just can’t be a wimp about what board I should be riding or have others who think they’re better than me intimidate me.  A few waves and a smoothie, that’s what I love about surfing.  Kristy & Cat were great!!  For that reason alone I might give it another go.  Or I can just leave it to my friend and her now wife?

The thing about surfing, piano, sailing, whatever people want to try is that it doesn’t matter who is the best.  My favorite surfing quote is the best surfer out there is the one who is having the most fun.  That would always be me 🙂

This is from Costa Rica, the best wave for me with no crowds:

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Seattle

Got to be a tourist this past week while my husband had an engineering conference up there.  I’ve been there a few times for work related things, have never really checked it out.  It’s booming!  That’s either good or bad, depending on the companies that are creating that boom with rising housing prices.  Here in San Francisco, low income has been literally kicked to the curb.  We have all the top tech with Monopoly money, no sense of reality of what anything actually costs.  It looks like all that tech has gone to Seattle, after destroying San Francisco.

We stayed downtown at a very small condo AirB&B.  It was a super modern place, really convenient and close to everything including the convention center.  The first night of the conference they had a dinner at the Space Needle.  I’d been in it before for dinner almost 20 years ago, it’s nothing like that now.  The surrounding buildings are so tall, it almost dwarfs the Space Needle, including the roof of the place we were staying.  It’s still cool to go on the rotating floor, plus construction started on my husband’s birthday and finished in my year, I’m the same age as the Space Needle – probably in need of renovation too??

The roof of our AirB&B

Other than that, I walked A TON!!  Going on little tours, the Duck Boat was a fun one.  I did one in Boston and loved it, this was a good way to see parts of the city I would never see otherwise and get a few laughs in.  We spent a few lunches at Pike’s Market, if I could cook I would have bought some fish to fry up in the condo.  We’re on the go so much this week that I couldn’t even send it home.

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I brought my keyboard, the forecast was for rain the whole time so I thought I’d be stuck indoors.  It didn’t rain at all, one of the things I got to do was go sailing for a little over an hour.  That was really nice, always like to see a town from the water.  The keyboard limited what I could bring home, another reason I didn’t pack a cooler from Pike’s.

 

From the “Let’s Go Sailing” boat pier 55

 

Just a heads up about our AirB&B, this seems to be a booming industry as well everywhere.  On the upside, it really was an amazing location and a cool place WAY too small to live.  Not to hip on the hospitality, it sucked.  We paid high rates, got a 10 page instruction sheet on how we have to tip-toe through the concierge so as not to let anyone know it’s an AirB&B, no noise, no nothing.  Our first morning we woke up to find the coffee left for us was decaf, poor form but not a major infraction.  I have headphones for my keyboard, we didn’t make a peep.

All went well, until we asked for either a late check out or baggage storage.  We weren’t supposed to be there, the concierge scowled at us every time we walked by, we knew from our instruction booklet not to bother them for anything.  The answer from our “hosts” was “We cannot accommodate your request.”  They suggested we leave our bags at Nordstrom??  Really??  You buy a place right next to a convention center and no clue on where we can leave our bags until the conference is over?  I panicked, thinking I might have to lug my keyboard around all day.

It turns out there are Bag B&B’s, a separate entity start up requiring it’s own app…genius.   My husband ended up putting our luggage behind the check in curtain at the conference, all but my 50 lb backpack.  Off I went to the water to get on it.

I loved it there, it was clean and safe.  If the Winter weather wasn’t miserable, it would be a place I could see myself.  The times I’ve been there I’ve hit some decent weather.  Seems the time to go is during the summer before that kicks in.  Lots of building going on, lots of tech is already there.

I have to bring up an incident in the airport as just an aside.  After carrying 50lbs around with hours before our flight, I splurged for a 15min neck and shoulders massage.  This woman sat down in the area, very disoriented.  At first I thought she was cutting in front of me in line waiting.  The guy asked if she was waiting for a massage and she said “no.”  He said it was the waiting area, that’s when I noticed she was completely out of it.

I sat next to her and then noticed a smell, she lost her bowels as well as looked totally lost.  She started trying to pick up her backpack and I said, “Do you need some help?  Are you here with someone?”  She said “yes” she was there with someone (she wasn’t) and that she didn’t need help.  She stood up, then collapsed hitting her head right out of my reach.  People rushed over, a Dr. & nurse traveling (separately) were first on the scene.  I saw a motorcycle in Santa Fe, thank God these professionals are first to pull over.  I know CPR, that’s about it.  The only input from me, besides saying what happened before the fall, was that she needs to go to the hospital.

The medics came, they figured out who she was by getting her cell & ID.  An Alaska airlines rep was there for info on where she was traveling from…Palm Springs to San Jose??  How did she get re-routed through Seattle for a 9pm flight making an hour flight into an all day nightmare??  Even I might be disoriented and shit my pants after that!!

My mom is 81, I haven’t let her travel alone for years.  I suck it up, get on her flight through L.A. and make sure she gets home OK.  Sometimes I just stay at her house on either end of the flights so I’m with her the whole time.  We were stuck in a 3 hour TSA line in Newark once, I’ve slept in airports and zig-zagged across the US to get home due to weather.  Anything can happen when you travel, apparently winding up in a hospital in Seattle is on that list.  I hope she’s OK 😦

I just write this as a warning to myself that there will be a time when I’m too old to travel, coming in at midnight with a keyboard and 50 lb backpack at 55 years old is no cake walk either.  Speaking of, if I ever did move to Seattle you will find me at Royal Cupcake with my latte and fig/honey cupcake every afternoon.

LA Tourist

With a few days free because my son is working in Napa, his wife and I headed to my Mom’s house so I could show her LA and my home town.  Usually during the summer it’s pretty cold and foggy by the beach, we’ve hit a heat wave like no other (since there’s no global warming).  It’s fine if it’s just to hop in the water, it’s another thing if you’re a tourist in your own ‘hood.

Of course I had to go in the water first off, might do that today before we head back up an incredibly smokey I-5 back to my real home.  Most of the time when I come down here, that’s the extent of my visit…a day at the beach.  Really, just a few hours to swim then dry off, don’t lay out anymore.

From there, we decided on dinner in Marina Del Rey – a place my DIL from Turkey has never heard of so we wandered up to Venice instead.  Venice is not my favorite, it was crowded, hot, smelled like pot and to me is like a poorly run carnival.  As soon as my DIL figured it out, we were free to leave.

Instead of MDR for dinner, we then headed up to Gladstones on Sunset & PCH in Malibu, which was surprisingly not very crowded.  I’m used to “back in the day” where it was tough to get seated it was so popular.  It was a Tuesday night though, not like a weekend.

To be total tourists, we had to go to Hollywood and Universal Studios on the hottest day of the year with what looked like 58% humidity.  I brought a water bottle or I would have never made it through the 2+ hour line (90 minutes on the board, which must have meant 90 minutes to get to the indoor line).  It was for the Harry Potter ride, which was actually a lot of fun once we got on it without heat stroke.

The other ride was the tram tour I remember as a kid.  I’ve only been there once, it was after Jaws came out.  My fading memory is the fake shark coming at us, then going from set to set and seeing the “I Love Lucy” & “Bewitched” sets.  They weren’t still shows, the Bewitched set was showing us the magic of Hollywood and how they made her disappear to show up somewhere else though the editing.  WAY before cell phones!!  Now you can do everything on you phone, that’s pretty much magic.

One thing Universal did that was amazing on the rides was the 3D and that Harry Potter ride.  Even going to sit down in that Kung Fu Panda theater (not something I’d ever planned to see, I needed a short line and to sit down) puts you right in there.  Those rides were amazing, didn’t anticipate that at all.

We stayed until around 9p, I time everything around LA traffic.  My usual route here is the 405 S. through West LA and LAX airport.  The downtown LA route through the 101 to 105 at night was spectacular, don’t think I’ve done that since my friends were at USC?  Even then, I didn’t pay any attention or those buildings weren’t lit up like that.  Downtown LA is someplace I never go, thought it was just office buildings with some hospitals and a whole lot of traffic.

Going to be a tough drive back through all the smoke in the central valley.  Take my dive in the ocean and head back for the long drive.  Thinking about asking the NBA players a few doors down from my mom to help me put my bike back in the car 🙂

 

 

 

 

Off-line for days

Wow was that nice!!  Went to Tahoe to try and fish, something I’ve only tried a few times.  On the way up I stopped at a Bass Pro Shop/Outdoor World that looks like Disneyland.  I was so overwhelmed that I ended up going to the Walmart next door and buying a pole & line for $30.  What I caught was the bottom of a small lake, then I caught a really porous rock at the Truckee River.  It’s all catch & release up there, which of course I didn’t know how to do but I wasn’t too worried about even catching anything.

I stopped when I couldn’t cast it anymore, since I got the cheapest line it got all tangled when I reeled it in despite my youtube instruction on how to put the line on it.  It was still fun casting, years ago I did a fishing guide trip in Redding where I just reeled them in and the guide did all the dirty work.  I brought a cooler and had salmon for a few weeks for dinner.  When I got back I finally youtube’d how to release and I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own quite yet.  Driving home I stopped at that Bass Pro Shop to get some tips and better line.  Surprisingly, the pole was a Big Ugly from Walmart and is actually decent.

The funny part of my trip was sailing on Donner Lake, I’m totally bruised and battered.  It was a little plastic cockpit with one sail.  There’s a beach on the West side that has a $5 entrance fee and rents the usual, kayaks, SUP’s, and these mini-sail boats.  I ran into a guy who’s son played soccer with my youngest…feel kinda bad I never remember his name, not an uncommon event lately.  When I see people, I automatically figure they don’t know my name and try to eliminate that awkward recollection by saying, “It’s Heller” right away.  No such luck with this guy.

The awkward part of that one was that he and his buddy were taking out one of these itty bitty boats the same time I was.  He re-introduced me to his wife, then suggested I take her out on my rental.  She declined and I was relieved, it’s not like my boat where you just kick back, relax & chat.  Sure enough, when I got on the thing I barely fit.  I have no idea how two of them went out on it?  I had to slide way up to use the tiller, then lay down for the boom to cross over me and hop my butt over to the other side.  These tip over, it was the only way I had any control over that.  Man was it a blast though!!  Super responsive, when I got a gust I jammed.  Always good to just sail on a small boat to go back to the basics.

The next day I rented a SUP from the East side of Donner lake.  I have a blow up one I wasn’t able to get out of the garage before I left, it was easier to just rent one for an hour. I stayed at the Truckee Donner Lodge that was once a Holiday Inn Express where we stayed when the kids were little to go skiing.   There’s also a camp ground Frank & I stayed at once when we brought his dog back to her homeland, we adopted her in Tahoe.  It’s walking distance from the hotel, so I got a really nice hike/SUP in before I headed back home.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Tahoe throughout the past 20 years, not much of it during the summer.  It was just great!!  I love coming back down the mountain too, as much as I love the call of nature, I hate bugs.  I’ve got a couple of nasty bites and bruises, there was also a run in with a snake that made me hesitate crossing a trail thinking it would swallow me.  Finally I reasoned it was probably more scared of me, I never saw a rattle.  Any fin I see in the water is a shark, any snake is a rattler, any spider is a black widow or California brown.  Always good to be cautious for worst case scenario I guess??

Back on the Bay

It’s been a month since I took the boat out, that’s the longest she’s ever sat there.  The winds on my trip were hectic, it’s been small craft advisory ever since I’ve been back.  We decided to head out early to Angel Island to make sure we got a dock for hiking since it’s Memorial weekend.  It’s always packed there weekends, hard to get a spot or a mooring.  Before we went, I checked out the dock sizes on Google Earth, the last time I docked there was on a J-24 years ago.  I’ve moored there with my boat a few times, either for mooring practice, we did spend one night there.

The sail over was really easy, there was just enough wind to sail the whole way.  The wind was  from the South that I didn’t have to worry about the Berkeley pier, I come out of Emeryville.  We were the first ones at the docks, around 10:30a?  It’s a $15 park fee, then a 4.5 mile hike around the perimeter.

The fun didn’t start until I tried to leave the dock…

I’m really good about reading currents and checking tides, seeing the slack tide was about 5:30p.  The guy in the brand new Beneteau 35 pulled out about an hour before I did and smacked his boat hard against the wood piling, leaving a nasty scratch on the side.  He had a little girl and maybe her dad do the dock lines, they couldn’t get on the boat from the dock.  He had to pull the boat back in, they both did a running jump and luckily made it before the boat smacked the wood pilings.  I should have helped them, it’s a tough call.  Some people are happy to have you help, others consider it “advice” so I kept my mouth shut the whole time.  My plan was to keep us on the boat and flick the boat lines off the dock cleats.

Walking back up to the snack bar to grab an ice cream, it was hard not to notice people struggling with docking.  The most common mistake is people bring the bow line in tight, then the stern swings out and no one can get off the boat.  Definitely took note of people struggling to get in and out of there when we went back to rig the boat to take off.  The first thought was people don’t know how to dock, the next thought was maybe it’s the water moving?  It was both.

We spent some time rigging it, I looked for traffic because the ferries create quite a wake going in & out of there…all clear.  Backed out and the guy two docks down backed out at the exact same time.  The way the docks are situated, there’s a curve on my dock so that if I went straight out I’d back right into him.  I tried to go back in the dock, the water moving and now the prop walk turned the bow to starboard – now I was the crappy docker!  I had no choice, I needed speed for rudder and had to back out or smack that wood piling if I hesitated.  I backed out.  The other boat blocked me from doing too much, I couldn’t turn or get out of there, he was just looking at me backing into him with the water moving me right to him.

Then it got kind of blurry, I remember my husband yelling commands and I couldn’t listen to him because I was at the helm and know the boat.  I couldn’t turn the boat yet, there wasn’t enough room with the water moving and going backwards wasn’t enough power to get through that sideways current.  The second I have room to flip the boat around, I gunned it forward to get away from the other boat.  The water was then moving me towards the docks again and the other boats on the dock.  Pretty sure there was about a foot to spare when I gunned it in forward to turn the boat and get out of there!

I learn something every time I sail, this one was one more look for traffic before I shove off and take note of other boaters struggling.  When I got home and looked up Angel Island, it’s pretty notorious for poor etiquette and nasty sideways currents.  What did I think would happen on Memorial weekend?

The sail back was super easy, motored out to the West tip of Angel Island to take out the jib.  With 20knot gusts what I generally do is just take out the jib (depending on my crew, I’d take out the main too) & go downwind from there.  If I have the right point of sail, I never have to gybe and get in between the Berkley pier and Treasure Island easily.  Besides the 5 minutes of sheer terror, it was pretty relaxing.

The Sierras

Back at home, the last few days were spent in Mammoth with a friend I grew up with.  From Vegas, I went up Hwy 95 (not too scenic) to Hwy 266 and cut over into the Sierras to Bishop, then Mammoth.  The quicker alternative would be to go through Bakersfield, then up I-5, a route I do all the time back and forth from LA.  From google, it looks to be around 8 hours and I was so wiped out from driving I’d have to split that up to possibly stay in Bakersfield.

Mammoth was perfect!  Growing up, especially in high school, my friends dad would take us up there every other weekend from LA.  Our high school ski club had an infamous trip there in 1980, where I got busted for spotting and being a bad influence on everyone and sent to my room.  Of all stupid things, I hitch hiked to the liquor store at 17 years old.  I watch WAY too much Law & Order to ever think of that now!  Rumor had it at the time that the mountains were safe to hitch hike.  The altitude didn’t help, I got drunk faster than my normal pace.  Cleverly (I thought), I hid the bottles at the bottom of everyone’s ski jackets, which is the first place our chaperone checked.  Those were the days, my parents never found out and I just had a hangover for skiing the next day.

This trip was about going places I’d never been, which ended up being kind of true for Mammoth too.  I didn’t recognize anything, it had been too long.  Ever since I’ve been in NorCal, Tahoe is my place to ski.  When I go there now, it just reminds me of my kids being little and how fun it was when we all skied together.

A friend I grew up with lives in Mammoth now, it was SO good to see her!  It’s hard to believe we’re 55 now?  We talked like we were little girls again, or maybe high school girls about when we were little.  Because I was traveling alone this whole time, I’ve been super careful not to let people know that so I really haven’t talked to anyone this whole time.  I hope I let her get in a few words?

The Tioga pass through Yosemite opens Monday, to get home I cut through the Sonora Pass instead.  The snow was rapidly melting, the roads were totally clear.  Another place I’d go in college with an old BF was Yosemite with his family, it was their favorite place.  The only reason I bring this up is because I passed by Mono Lake, never went there when we’d go to Mammoth and it’s so close.  I had been there a few times in the 80’s on those Yosemite trips.  As much as I’d like to see Yosemite again, I’d need more time than just an exhausted drive through.  Yosemite is close enough to me, that’s a trip in itself.

Sonora pass was perfect!  Popped out into Copperopolis, from there I could see Mt. Diablo.  I’ve done some work up there with landslides and the drone, I knew where I was.

Oh, BTW, I never used a map the whole trip.  I used my phone, then wrote down the Hwy’s before I headed out in case I didn’t have cell coverage.  Not super smart, I never got lost though.  My mom bought me a Garmin InReach for flying and sailing, I turned that on coming back from Mammoth.  If I press “track” it pings my location every 10 min, I just send the link so it tracks me.  That way, if I’m off in a ravine somewhere, they’ll at least have an idea of my location.  There was no cell almost the whole time though the Sierras until I got to Hwy 395.  The passes have nada.

Maybe I’ll have more insights on my trip in a few days when I recover?  Right now, I’m just happy not to drive today.  A few thoughts though, first is that my childhood only involved going to grandparents in AZ unless my friends parents took me with them on their trips (am I too old to blame my parents?  haha).  The other thing is I should have spent more time in places.  I’d spend 2 nights max, leaving my one full day in a place as a sightseeing/recover from driving/zombie day.  My back only bothered me at the very beginning, that was a blessing.

Looks like I have a wedding to watch (royal) and a wedding to help plan now (my sons).  But first, a shower!

Featured image is Mono Lake
Then Hwy 266 cutting across from NV & Mammoth Lakes w/ Timber.  The map is my Garmin pinging where I am on my last leg home.  I had cell almost everywhere but on the train to Grand Canyon and through the Sierras.  The InReach lets you txt anywhere too.

Vegas!

Ahhhh!!  A nice hotel again, finally got some sleep.  From Williams, AZ it’s a few hours drive to Vegas.  I made it a little longer by stopping in Kingman for a Starbucks, then Hoover Dam.  Vegas is a funky place, I’ve only been here a few times for work.  It’s a little overwhelming for me, not really a gambler.  The couple times I’ve been here I’ve seen some great shows though – Elton John, Brittney Spears, the PBR (Pro Bull Riders) finals.  That’s how I found this place, South Point, was an extra night I stayed once where the MGM tripled in price for that night.

South Point is off of the main strip, with coffee in the rooms.  One thing about Vegas strip is no coffee???  You have to do the $10 walk of shame and stand in line at the Starbucks.  I had to find the solution to that after my first trip here, I have my own little folding kettle with the pour over travel mug.

On one shuttle ride back to the airport, I was chatting with a woman from England who comes here every few years, just to Vegas, of all places?  If it wasn’t for work, Vegas wouldn’t be on my list of places to go.  From the Bay Area, it’s pretty cheap to hop on a plane, stay here just to see a show.  This also seems to be the gateway for the fellow tourists I saw throughout my trip.

Hoover Dam was a great stop, glad I did that.  It’s free parking if you keep driving over to the AZ side of the dam, the first parking lot in NV is $10.  While I was still in the parking lot, I overheard these couples talking about how we need another president like Hoover to build something like this again.  Trump is the guy who’s going to get things like this done again, everyone needs to get over the Russia investigation.  Look at what he’s done so far for creating jobs in America and taking it away from China.

Admittedly, I hate Trump.  I barf in my mouth a little thinking he is our president and that this is what America has come to, a new Jerry Springer episode every day.  Stop reading now, I’m about to rant.  Obviously, Fox news didn’t report in their 45′ RV’s that Trump just created jobs for China regarding ZTE that day.  Then, with a little twist of their heads they can take a look at the water line to see it’s a major drought still.  Comparing Hoover to Trump is insane (asinine?).   Saying he’s going to build something like this is even more insane.  How can someone look at this masterpiece of engineering and give Trump credit for it…at all??  My trip has been Trump free so far, mostly because I’ve been listening to music with no TV this whole time.

One thing I did hear was his pull-out from Iran, I had to check the news because the gas prices sky-rocketed overnight.  How is it creating jobs when people can’t afford to put $100 worth of gas in their trucks to get to work?  I always thought the big crash started with the gas prices and tumbled from there.  People put together a house of cards financially, then the gas prices went to $5.  Here it comes again, have fun in that RV while it lasts.