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.

 

Grand Canyon, Bucket List item checked off

When I was a little girl at my grandparents in Arizona, my grandma would read to me every night before I went to bed.  The one I remember the most is “Brighty of the Grand Canyon.”  It was my favorite childhood book, mostly because it was from great memories of my grandparents.

For the first time ever, I finally went to the Grand Canyon.  Talk about a bucket list thing to do!!  Not sure what to recommend on this one, certainly not the lodging.  I’m in Williams at a brand new Holiday Inn Express, which is clean, I’ll give it that.  The acoustics in here make it so you can hear every footstep, it’s like elephants having a dance party all night.  Then, just when I thought it was going to get better a tour group checked in surrounding my room.  It was banging of doors and a hall party until I slept from sheer exhaustion.  The doors are all banging while I write.

The train from Williams was great, really glad I did that.  Without my family, again I splurged on the first class with a really comfortable ride.  Thought it might be musty/dusty, not at all.  I was in the luxury dome, there were also parlors downstairs that were really comfortable.  It doesn’t  go around the canyon, it just takes you to the South Rim.  They explain the maps and some things not to do, like take a selfie off of a cliff – 25 deaths last year, one last week.  The attendant gave me a game plan for my 3.5 hours in the park.  I walked (I wouldn’t call it hiking, although I was wearing hiking boots) 2.5 miles to the visitor center, then took a tram back for lunch & some more of the spectacular view closer to the train stop.

It was a perfect taste of the Grand Canyon for a day, I’ll be back for sure!  Next time, I want to stay in the park and hike the Bright trail.  The weather was actually perfect for that, I had a light jacket on the whole time.  The weather is tricky, It seems like May is great besides the winds.  The temp everywhere I’ve been has been manageable with no bugs.  The winds though!   Once it gets to summer, I know from my childhood that the monsoons kick in.  I used to love the thunderstorms, make for gorgeous sunsets too.  Doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun for driving and camping.

Right before I went back on the train, I took one last long look at the canyon.  I say I’m coming back, you never know though.  Thought about my grandparents, both long gone now, and how lucky I am to have had someone to read to me at night and calm me through those AZ thunderstorms.

What I’ll have to do is go through my photos on a decent computer when I get back.  I’ll just put a few pics up now.  Feature photo of Grand Canyon has no touch ups.  The other 2 are from my drive out here from Lake Powell.

 

Vegas baby!

 

 

Happy Trails

Hard to leave Monument Valley without shedding a few more tears for Darcy and Steve, how short their lives ended up being.  They did a ton in a short amount of time, they traveled extensively.

In some ways, I feel like this is the AARP pilgrimage journey.  What is it about getting a certain age and wanting a boat or an RV to travel (or sail) the world?  Whatever it is, I’ve fallen into the stereotype to see as much as possible before the end.  I love sailing, not enough to sail around the world.  Sailing to Sam’s for lunch is good for me, maybe to Mexico for a Bahaha one day.  I’m afraid my surfing days may be over, the last two trips I wound up with broken ribs due to osteopenia.

In a way, it’s surprising I’ve never done this?  My mom is from Arizona, my whole family has done this except for me.  I spent my summers in Bisbee, AZ with my grandparents, my uncle would take us camping when we were little.  They just never brought me this far North when I was younger.  Right now, I’m at Lake Powell, which is about an 8 hour drive from Bisbee or I’d ask my uncle to come up and join me.  One thing about growing up in LA with the month in AZ every summer is I get how to pass cars on these highways.  On the senior citizen road to Lake Powell, I kept getting stuck behind “RVAMERICA,” or whatever they’re called, going 40 miles an hour.  The truck passes them handily.

The winds on the trip so far have been relentless.  Besides the tour boats, there aren’t any other recreational kayaks or stand up paddleboards available with these winds.  I did go for a tour on one of the boats last night, that was well worth it.  There was a (wannabe, which is me) photographers tour to Antelope Canyon that is booked a month out.  My husband booked this nice room for me for the night so I wouldn’t make another mistake of staying in a place like Farmington, across from the adult video store/check cashing.  If it weren’t for the winds, I’d be out on the water for sure.  Although, baking on a lake doesn’t sound appealing right now.

This was a nice stop,, I’ll probably come back to just explore here one day.

The pics are a combination of Monument Valley and Lake Powell.  I’m including two pictures I had someone take of me in Monument Valley, one he took by accident that I actually like – the feature photo.  The other one cracks me up because the whole purpose was to get the shot of the natural structure, with me in the middle of it, and it’s just me.  I practically rock climbed for that shot, how do you f that up?  Oh well, maybe I can salvage in photoshop when I get home.  Apologies for how crappy these are, sleeping in a truck 2 nights (including a nap in it before my room was ready here) and the high winds aren’t helping my creativity.