Tuesday, July 11, 2006

North Coast Travelogue: 6/9 to 6/10

Once again had to head to the Bay Area. This time we actually had a morning appointment. That meant leaving early in the morning on Monday, as we'd been doing before, probably wouldn't work.

What we used to do was leave about 5amish, drive like the dickens to get there for the first appointment (which was about the same as the one we had yesterday) but we'd have to wait a few hours for the second appointment and, by the time we left, we'd just be too beat to drive all the way back to Eureka. So, as I've mentioned here before, we'd go as far as Ukiah, rent a room at the Discovery Inn, and make the rest of the drive the next day. I hate that, although I like the Discovery Inn and Ukiah.

So, I figured we could leave sometime in the late morning or early afternoon and take a more leisurely drive, still getting there in daylight. But where to stay?

I'd noticed the Day's Inn in Novato long ago, since it stood out pretty much by itself on the west side of the freeway on the south side of town. It still has a big banner on it proclaiming Internet Hotspot, or some such.

I thought that looked like a choice spot to stay as it had easy access to the freeway and was within an hour of University of California at San Francisco. I figured I could handle an hours drive in the morning and then a five and a half hour drive later, assuming we got out of UCSF sometime around noon.

Other than that I was sure there were lots of places but they wouldn't be as easy to get to. If we stayed back in Ukiah, I thought the three hour drive to Frisco would poop me out and it might be too much to try and drive all the way back to Eureka the same day.

Checking out the Days Inn online, I only found a couple reviews (I can't find them as I began to write this) and they weren't all that reassuring but nothing that dissuaded me from trying the place at least once. Days Inn it was for Sunday night. I called and made a reservation. The online form didn't seem to work.

So, we left Eureka around 11am Sunday, much nicer than racing to get out by 5am as we usually do. Seemed to get hotter and hotter as we drove south. We'd usually kept fairly comfortable just opening the floor and panel vents to cool us. This time it got a bit warm, even with that, so Connie turned on the air conditioner. That helped a lot. First time I'd ever used it in my truck.

We got to the Days Inn around four o'clockish. We took the first Novato exit, turned right and, just off the freeway was the turn to Days Inn. You had to drive about what seemed like a mile or so to get to the Inn. I'd never noticed it being that far, just from casually looking at it.

Another surprise was how hot Novato was. I thought of Novato as being a more coastal area with more of the coastal temperatures, despite having driven through it umpteen times. It was hot there.

I found the Days Inn to be a pleasant surprise. Despite being right near the freeway, I didn't really notice the freeway noise in the office or our room. The room was nowhere near as large as the ones you get at the Discovery Inn, but they had pretty much everything you'd expect, including the largest refrigerator I'd seen in a motel room and a safe in the closet for your valuables.

Not bad, thought I. The wife agreed but she pointed out some maintenance items that weren't kept up, mainly painting and such. I noticed some trash around the parking lot and grounds, cigarette butts and the like, but I got the impression we might have gotten there between cleanups. If they never cleaned it up there would have been far more trash.

I'm not sure where the nearest stores and restaurants were, as you were far enough out you couldn't see any businesses. I actually found that a plus, but I could see how some might find that a minus for a motel. Didn't really matter, unless you had your mind set on some sort of food, as the Garden Court Restaurant was part of the hotel.

Garden Court is open from 5pm(?) until (?) and served chinese cuisine. I didn't like being stuck with chinese but, for then and there, it was good enough for me. Nice food, problem was it put us back into the $25 for two meals deal. We try to hit the fast food places where we can usually get by for less than $10.

I guess the Garden Court is named so because it also has table just outside that sit next to the garden which is near the pool. A pleasant place to hang out, I would think, but it was too hot for my tastes at the time.

So, back in the room we kick back. The air conditioner didn't seem to have the ooomf of ones like at the Discovery Inn, but they got the room cool enough. As an aside, all the lower rooms seemed to have sliding glass doors facing the pool, which I thought was nice touch.

So, I figured I'd try going online on this Internet Hotspot. Boom! Connected almost with the blink of an eye. I find that warning on the connection software that I was on an unsecured network troublesome, but it's not the first time I've seen it. Worked out pretty good except for the power/ laptop location thing. The plug next to the table was one of those old fashion ones with nowhere for the ground plug to fit so I couldn't use it. I ended up plugging in behind the refrigerator but then the cord went across the path to the sliding glass door resulting in me getting tangled in it as I went in and out the door.

To the west of the Inn is mostly just rolling hills although you can see parts of, what I found out later, is the Birkenstock complex. I went out to take a look earlier on and there were three deer hanging out a few feet from our room. Later on I went out and noticed a number of deer on the hillside over by Birkenstock: Five buck and five does, just from a quick count. It made for a fun side event trying to find all the deer. Luckily I keep my mini- binoculars in the truck which I brought out for the occasion.

The next morning I was up at five, as usual. We'd decided to try and leave by eight which would give us an hour and a half to make the 24 mile trip to the Golden Gate Bridge. Might not take that long but you had to take traffic problems into consideration.

We decided we'd try out the Inn's Breakfast Room, having been impressed earlier on with the one Discovery Inn in Ukiah offers. The Inn's room was ok, kinda on par with the Discovery's, and the Inn had a TV available, too. The only downside was they didn't appear to staff their room and at least one coffee air pot of was empty, leaving one guest fuming. No orange juice, either. But most other stuff was there and when the fuming guest finally went to the desk for help, a staff member came in and started refilling things and some orange juice seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Not exactly a good first impression for the Breakfast Room, but maybe I caught them on a bad day, or between shifts. I did notice the gal who checked us in the day before coming in then so they might have been in shift change turmoil. Nonetheless, all I wanted was a couple hard boiled eggs and toast, so I was all set.

We made it to the Bridge in probably less than forty five minutes, despite the desk gal saying it was forty five minutes without the traffic.

We got done at UCSF and were out of there at noon, racing north. I felt ok, despite not sleeping all that well the night before. I figured I shouldn't have too much a problem making the whole drive to Eureka.

We seemed to make pretty good time with a few minor slow downs. I noticed one thing near Santa Rosa that was akin to what Eric Kirk described on his blog happening in Willits:

When traffic merges into fewer lanes, there's always some people that try to stay in the disappearing lane until the last moment so they can basically cut in line in front of others since most people try to merge ealier on, assuming they know of the merge. Just like some do in Willits, I noticed some around Santa Rosa use the car pool lane to race as far forward as they can and then get in at the front of the line.

Traffic slowed just before the freeway construction area as everyone started merging into the two available lanes. It seemed most merged a few miles back and traffic was probably down to 45mph, or less. That gives the assholes of the state the opportunity to use the fairly empty car pool lane to race alongside the slow lanes and get way up to the front where someone eventually allows them to slip in ahead of everyone else.

I'm with Eric: Don't let them in. I guess that's easier said than done. These guys and gals make a difficult situation worse by making the merge even more congested and deserve public shame. That said, I'll have to admit to not remembering just what lanes will be the existing lanes after the merge so a person can make an honest mistake, as I've done before and will likely do again.

So, after about Windsor it's generally pretty clear sailing. Of course, you always have the speed freaks who seem to get right on your ass no matter how fast you're driving. I actually think that's some psyche thing with them. Maybe it's some weird aggression complex? When they see a car in front of them, they feel they must be going too slow so they try to pass them? I don't know. It just seems kind of sicko to me.

As we get to Willits I'm thinking of Eric's recount of driving through Willits and of him not letting a rude merger into the line. Will I have the guts and presence of mind to do the same?

I get some gas at the Shell station. Probably could have made it on what I had but why drain my tank and have to fill up at Humboldt prices?

It doesn't look too congested at the south end of town. Finally the merge area approaches and traffic backs up, but not too bad. Connie comments, without any prompting from me about the jerks driving by trying to get to the front of the line...I told her I agreed and mentioned not letting any of them in, if they try it with us when we're up front.

We finally get up front, near where the merge is, and there's a logging truck trying to merge. For some reason him trying to get in didn't bother me so I opened a spot for him. Then I notice, in the corner of my eye, a white pick up trying to snuggle up to the logging truck so he can get in too. Nope, says I.

The log truck driver probably couldn't really tell how close he was to my truck so he kept trying to edge forward before fully merging into the lane. On the other hand, I wanted there to be as little room as possible so the white pick up couldn't slip in. It made for some skillful maneuver play. I could see the white pick up trying to move in every time the log truck tried to get some safe distance from me, I'd close up to the log truck and close the gap between the log truck and me. I was probably really pissing the log truck driver off.

Finally the guy directly behind me gave in and let the white pick up in behind me. Probably just as well as I might well have been making a bad situation worse by playing that game. Besides, when I got to thinking about it, maybe that white pick up had just entered 101 after leaving one of the businesses on the east side of the street. I hadn't seen where that pick up actually came from. Hmmm... I'll have to try and pay attention to where these people came from before I start blocking them.

Finally, got out of Willits and headed north, the most frustrating thing for a while being poor radio reception. Weird how I got that one radio station, KWPT(?), The Points, all the way past Laytonville on the way down, but couldn't pick it up until somewhere near the Avenue of the Giants on the way back up.

So I race back, once we get past Richardson Grove, faster than is probably normal driving for me. I've always found Richarson Grove to Eureka, or vice versa, the longest part of the drive, at least perception wise.

We finally get home at a little past 5:30. Funny how I race to get home and when I get here and get out of the truck I have to say to myself: "Now what?"


At 11:57 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Now, if someone else had wrote what I just wrote, and I came to some blog and saw how long it was, I probably wouldn't bother reading what I just wrote. :-)

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or leave a comment...

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't know each other, and from the way you write, I suspect we would get along just fine. But I gotta tell you, I'm one of those drivers that believes in merging at the last moment. I don't think I'm a jerk or any of the other names people like Erik toss around. I just think it's the smart way to proceed. I don't always do it, and when I'm creeping along in the slow lane, I have no problem letting late arrivals slip in front of me. With all the whackjobs out there, who needs the potential hassle? The way I see it, you're lucky the driver of the white pick-up wasn't some nut steaming mad on your rear bumper. Whatever. To each his own.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Anon.R.mous said...

Man, you missed the big wreak yesterday then, southbound 101 was jammed up for 17 miles, all the way to Santa Rosa. I also do alot of driving, and find Willits to be a pain the in the ass. Another odd problem I have is fuel, it's a bitch to find bio-diesel in the bay area, I'm going to have to add a tank in the bed of my truck I guess and haul my own fuel. Hopland has that hippy joint, but I don't know if I can trust them.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I think I saw the aftermath of that wreck. At least one fire engine was on the side of the southbound lane and traffic was all backed up. Luckily we were going north.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

Hey, I don't mind the length! But then, as you know I try to cram War and Peace into just about every post.

In mendo, try KOZT for classic rock 95.9 up to Willits, then 95.3 all the way until you get your favorite station in Humboldt.

Of course, yesterday afternoon you could have listened to Bill Shumaker's classical music on KMUD. He's doing both the Mon afternoon shows and the Tuesday morn show now that Tom H. has left, and he stays at our home in Redway so he doesn't have to get up at 4 in the morning to get to the station. He just turned 80 years old, and he's a fascinating man who's lived an incredible life.

But I digress. There's a Healthy Choice an exit or two to the Days Inn north, as well as other fast foods. Plus, there's a Burger King at the airforce base exit to your south, should you stay there again.

At 11:14 PM, Blogger Bitxxx said...

Don't forget the Aztec Grill in Willits.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

We have one of those in Garberville too, inside the Chevron station.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Heraldo said...

Burrito Exquisito in Willits.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

Oh yeah! Ask for their "hellfire" salsa!


Post a Comment

<< Home