Wednesday, December 20, 2006

North Coast Travelogue: Dec. 17- Dec 19

Headed to San Francisco again this last Sunday. With the cooler temperatures nowadays, we had to decide what to use for our beverage of choice.

We traditionally take a couple jugs of iced tea which really hits the spot on a hot summer day. That probably wouldn't go over well with it being so cold so, since I needed some kind of stimulant to keep me alert while driving, we filled up some thermos jugs with coffee.

We needed two jugs because the wife drinks decaf. I see absolutely no reason to drink coffee without caffeine so one jug was caffeinated, the other some yuppy type decaf the wife preferred.

So we stop at the Cook Valley gas station, just south of Richardson Grove, to pour some coffee. I usually wait until then to drink anything just because it gives me something to look forward to.

First thing I notice was the travel mug she brought along for me was really dirty. She said she'd washed it but it looked pretty dirty to me. I went inside the mini- mart and ended up buying a cup of coffee just for the cup.

That's when I noticed, not being a regular coffee drinker, that coffee has pretty much gone the way of iced tea. Well, almost. All kinds of yuppie versions of coffee in the various new age tastes and blends, just like iced tea.

Coffee wasn't quite as bad as at least there was one tap with good old standard blend coffee. That's all I wanted. Still, you have to look for the old fashioned stuff.

Back when we started with our iced tea habit, we found it was all you could do to find regular old iced tea. There were plenty of yuppie flavored brands in those small bottles, but plain old unflavored, unsweetened iced tea was difficult to find.

After buying that first cup, I refilled out of the thermos and found the coffee Connie made was better than what I'd just bought.

One somewhat unpleasant surprise was I'd figured the coffee would really give me a buzz. I've found coffee is quite stimulating to someone who doesn't drink it regularly. I suppose it helped a little, but not as much as I expected, and needed.

I supposed it helped me enough to make it worth the hassle of making it and I guess we'll continue with that tradition for winter travel.
************

I'm wondering if I'll need to add a small bottle of Windex to my truck travel supples.

I'd noticed a strange film on my windshield even before we left for Frisco. For some reason, I thought it was on the outside of the windshield. It wasn't always noticeable, just when the temperature and light conditions were right. Not dealing with it earlier became a problem as we got into southern Humboldt.

It must have been the combination of sunlight and low temperatures. The film on the window became real noticeable, to the point of being a driving hazard. It became especially bad when leaving a sunny area and entering a shady area. I almost couldn't see into the shaded area in front of me because of that film.

Luckily it wasn't like that all the time but came and went. Still, not a good state of affairs. So, when we finally stopped at the Moss Landing Rest Stop, south of Laytonville, I tried to see what the strange film was all about.

I wiped the front of the windshield with my finger and it made no impression. I didn't want to do the same on the inside because I didn't want to leave a fingerprint on the window, petty though that may seem. Instead, I grabbed one of the alcohol swabs we use to wash our hands in lieu of proper hand washing facilities. I rubbed a small spot in the center of the windshield and the film came off.

Taking a closer look, I noticed that the film wasn't nearly so bad on the passenger side. Then I realized what caused it: Me.

Working in and out of my truck as a gardener, I often get into the truck all sweaty. That sweat ends up evaporating and eventually setting down someplace, the windshield in front of me being one of those places. Once the sweat is on the window, it absorbs any number of other things in the air. I'd dealt with the problem with my old truck but this was the first time, for some reason, I'd had the problem with this truck.

We left the rest stop and for some reason I didn't bother cleaning the windshield before we left. I guess that was mostly because I wasn't sure how I'd clean it with what we had on hand. I decided, though, if worst comes to worst, I'd stop somewhere and buy some Windex.

Then I realized that the alcohol swab seem to do a pretty good job in that one spot I used it, and a roll of paper towels is always left in the truck, having learned that lesson from past experience. I decided I'd try that combination.

When we got gas in Hopland I wiped down my side of the windshield with the alcohol swab and then cleaned it up with paper towels. That did a pretty good job, at least for my side. I'd get the passenger side of the windshield later.

Next time I need to remember to clean the inside of the windows before I leave.
*************

Oh, speaking of rest stops, while we were at that Moss Landing Rest Stop, I ran into the maintenance supervisor again. He'd told me a few months ago the rest stop in Leggett was supposed to be up and running the day after I'd spoken with him. It's never been opened.

I asked him about it and I guess it has to do with their well water. The rest stops get their water from wells. I guess back when the Leggett stop was opened before, the water had too many minerals in it, or some such, for human use. Now, it has to much shit in it, as he described it. I didn't inquire further.

Anyway, I guess they're considering putting all kinds of money into rectifying the situation. I get the impression, despite really appreciating these rest stops, that the state puts a lot more time and money into them than they merit.

They may even go further, as the Sacramento Bee (username humbolodtlib, password blogspot) reported a couple days ago. This is getting to be a bit much as far as I'm concerned.
************

So what is it with those of you that drive so close behind the car in front of you?

I'll admit I'm a more paranoid driver than most. I like to have at least seventy five yards between me and the car in front of me when I'm on the freeway. If at all possible I'll make that 100 yards. Sure, can't always have it like that, but I try to make it that way whenever possible.

I can't figure out some of you, though. I'll be going 65 to 70, sometimes faster,and I'll see cars following the car in front of them by no more than what appears to be 20 feet. Amazing. Some even do that behind big trucks where they can't see anything to the front of them.

I get the impression some people just drive that way all the time. I don't know if it's some deep down aggression thing inside some people or just stupidity. Some of the readers of this blog must drive like that. Could you tell me why?
***********

I've finally solved a couple laptop problems that've been driving me nuts.

First, so many of these older hotels have the old two prong electrical outlets that don't accept the three pronged male plugs most things use nowadays. That means you have to go through a hassle of sorts deciding the best place to use the laptop. Either that, or use battery power and then move the laptop somewhere else to charge it.

I finally got a two prong adapter a couple months ago. I believe it was less than two dollars at Schafer's. Problem was, I tried to use it last time I went to SF and couldn't get my laptop AC adapter to plug into it. It would only plug in about half way. I figured maybe the adapter was defective.

I took it back to Schafer's and spoke to the salesman about a replacement. He explained to me there was nothing wrong with the adapter. They come VERY tight from the factory so you really have to push hard to get the plug in the first time. I suppose to help me save face he said "I could see how you wouldn't want to force it...".

It worked great and, for the first time at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, I was able to use the laptop at the desk instead of a coffee table or elsewhere. I'll keep that adapter in my laptop case at all times now.

Another thing that drives me nuts is typing on laptops. It's just nowhere near as easy as a conventional keyboard for me. I'd heard you could use a conventional keyboard with a laptop by getting a USB keyboard. I thought of doing that but I still have the keyboard from my very first computer sitting in the garage and would have liked to use that one as it's fairly compact.

I wondered if they had a USB adapter for keyboards. Doing a quick check of Tiger Direct I found, yes, they do. About the only downside was the adapter cost $7.99 and shipping was $6.99, so shipping costs nearly as much as the adapter.

Still, I received in time to take down with me so I was able to use it this last couple of days. What a relief it is to use a conventional keyboard with the laptop. If only I could fit that keyboard into the laptop case.
**********

I checked weather.com regularly down there and was a bit disturbed by the freeze warnings all over the north state. I was hoping our water pipes back home wouldn't crack with no one around to turn the water off. I also wondered about the roads on our way back.

On the way down we didn't leave until 11 o'clock and I figured ice on the road wouldn't be a likely problem. In fact, the only snow we saw was in the hills above Garberville. But that was before these hard freeze warnings.

I was wondering if some of the shaded areas in the road,specifically between Willits and Laytonville might have the roads frozen even up towards noon on our way back. I didn't worry too much as I figured there'd be plenty of people on the road before us so they likely run off the road first and there'd be warning signs by the time we got there.

There actually was some heavy frost on the roadside up towards noon as we drove through the area. Then, after coming down the hill just north of Willits, we rounded a corner and were the second vehicle to come upon a big rig accident.

It actually happend some minutes earlier and there was some guy from the Covelo Volunteer Fire Dept. already on the scene lighting flares. As he came by I asked him what happened and he said he wasn't really sure. He said the truck driver was either driving too fast, was distracted, or both. The truck hit the guardrail and overturned.

I guess the driver crawled out of it and was ok, although an ambulance arrived shortly after we did.

The truck was blocking one lane and traffic was held up a half hour or so until it went to controlled traffic. No way of saying whether the accident was caused by ice on the roads but we noticed a lot of frost right down to the road from there to a few miles south of Laytonville.

It was kind of weird listening to the radio up near Garberville later on and hearing a road advisory mentioning the controlled traffic near Covelo due to the accident we'd seen.
************

We picked up what I guess was National Public Radio as we got around Leggett. I enjoy some of their lefty shows like Democracy Now and Counterspin for some reason.

Democracy Now had some interview with lefty icon, Naom Chomsky. First time I'd ever heard him and, I'll admit, I had a hard time understanding what he was trying to say but, in fairness to him, I was distracted by having to pay attention to the road.

When we got up past Rio Dell I started searching for something else to listen to and stumbled on to a radio show I must have passed by before.

I always wondered of there were any local talk shows around here. I know there's some political ones but, after acquiring a taste for the often sex obsessed talk shows in the Bay Area, I wondered if there was anything similar around here. I'd never heard of any although I seem to recall a guy and gal used to have some morning talk show.

It was a rather pleasant surprise to all of the sudden pick up a show with a guy and gal talking. They were talking about dangerous beach conditions and their personal experiences. It really caught my interest. Reminded me of some of the back and forth on the local blogs.

The show ended about the time we came to Elk River Road and, while I was paying close attention to hear who the talk show hosts were, (I'm assuming that was their normal type of show) the show came to an end and all I heard was part of the station designation; K?LG out of Hydesville(?). I wondered if that was our very own Jennifer Savage I'd been listening to?

Looking at her blog this morning, it looks like does indeed work for KSLG and the time might have been about right. We drove up to the house at around 2:15pm and her show supposedly ends at 2pm.

Nice show, at least from the fifteen or twenty minutes we listened to it. I'll leave the radio on that channel and see if that will be something I'll want to stick with.
************

I had a premonition of something bad happening, either as a result of our trip, or while we were gone. The house catching on fire, or the pipes freezing came to mind. I don't know if I feel that way every time we leave, or not. I probably do being the pessimistic paranoid type I am. But you know what they say about Just because you're paranoid...

As we drove up to the house I'm somewhat apprehensive but everything looks ok from what we could see driving down the street. Then I notice my trailer, the one I haul my mowers and stuff around with while working, is in a weird position with the hitch end over the sidewalk, like somebody moved it.

My first thought was some vandals just moved it to freak me out, as such things have happened before. As we get closer we see that's not the case. A car apparently hit my trailer. The whole back was smashed. The trailer is done for. I'm hoping this wasn't done by an uninsured driver.

First thing I notice is some notes on the front door and mailbox. One's from the girl next door saying she saw the car run into my trailer and it just kept on going. Then there was a business card from one of the Eureka PD Public Service Officers with a note on the back to contact him if I wanted to file a report.

Last was a note from some girl saying she hit my trailer. She included her phone number.

I call the girl. Apparently, at least according to her, she did stop after driving around the block, and knocked on our door but no one was home. She didn't have anything to write a note so she went to work and came back after work to leave the note.

Turns out she lives just four houses up the street and she does have insurance. She gave me the information and then called her insurance company. Less than an hour later they called me for some info.

Not sure how this will play out but I told them I can't work without my trailer. I told the guy I'm tempted to go buy a replacement, and send them the bill, just to get back to work as I have no idea how long this thing will drag out. He advised against that for various reasons but I reiterated this was work related equipment.

I also said I wasn't considering filing a claim for lost wages at this time, but if it drags out I might be forced to.

Anyway, the phone conversation was ok. I was impressed with their prompt, polite and apparently concerned response. So impressed I'll give them a plug: GEICO Insurance.

So, once again my constant worrying about bad things happening came to fruition.

But every dark cloud has a silver lining: At least I don't have to worry about going to work today.
***********

I actually took my digital camera with me this trip. I don't use it often but figured maybe I could add a few pictures to my travelogue. Got a few, including one of that truck accident. Problem is, I can't get the pics on my computer.

I can't find the software I used for dealing with the digital camera. So, stuck for now. If I can get this figured out, maybe I'll add the pics later.

27 Comments:

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have a full time job? I don't, and still I can't imagine writing anything that long.

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Fred said...

If someone else writes something that long, I probably wouldn't bother reading it, if only because my attention span is too short.

As far as a job, I don't have a job, at least until I get another trailer to replace the one that got smashed yesterday.

Don't blame you for not catching that as it was mentioned at the end of the travelogue and I'm sure you lost interest long before getting that far. I would have, too.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Hank Sims said...

Two tips, not necessarily for Fred.

1). If you find yourself at Richardson Grove and are looking for some real coffee -- the kind that Fred would call "yuppie" coffee -- you're better off going to that gift shop across the street from the highway. Not fantastic, but head and shoulders above the gas station.

2). There's a really fantastic new Spanish language radio station broadcasting out of Laytonville at 88.5 or thereabouts. It's part of a non-profit network called "Radio Bilingue," which has stations all across the U.S. At least some of the programs are also simulcast in Mexico.

Great music programs and good chit-chat shows too, if you speak the language. When we were coming up last weeked we tuned into a show called "Radio Mixteca," which was geared toward Oaxacans in exile. There were a couple of guys hosting the show. They played some music, but they mostly talked about the tense political situation down there. They read comminiques from some of the groups protesting the government, which is kind of a brave thing to do if you're being simulcast in Mexico.

At times, the hosts switched over and spoke in some indigenous language -- Mixtec, I presume. Maybe that's the "bilingue" part of "Radio Bilingue," because I've never heard any program in English on the station. Spanglish, but not English.

Anyway, even if you don't speak it's got super-cool music. We started receiving its signal just south of Garberville. It stretches down at least as far as Willits.

 
At 1:14 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Hey, Hank, that place across from the gas station: What kind of food do they have there and is it any good?

We've almost stopped there a few times to see what they had but never got around to it.

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Hank Sims said...

I'm not sure, but I think I remember getting a sandwich there once. Maybe not. If we're hungry, we usually stop in Garberville.

Or at The Peg House! The Peg House isn't too bad!

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for noticing us, Fred! That was Dr. Syd and I doing our 2 p.m. "changeover." We usually gab on a bit around that time – and we often have interviews and whatnot going on throughout the day – but the usual KSLG thing is "modern rock" and plenty of it, which may or may not be your thing. In any case, I'm really happy we caught your interest at the moment. (I could go on and on about beach dangers...)

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Yeah. I loved that one where the you warned that lady about letting the kids go down close to the water to chase the outgoing waves and she replied, "I told them not to go down there.".

Geeesh!

Rocks ok, but it all seems the same after a while and I get bored with it. A little chat on the radio seems to keep my attention better, although I'll admit that most of those talk shows in the Bay Area seem to talk about generally the same stuff.

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a trip driving south many years ago with my daughter, then about five years old, we passed a warning sign near Deer Creek Lodge saying to watch for black ice. She asked me what the sign said. When I told her, she asked, black guys?

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger samoasoftball said...

Fred: There is an Angelo's in Laytonville! Just in case you really need a pizza break!

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Hank Sims said...

Now I see that the Chronicle profiled Radio Bilingue a few months ago. It's a great story.

 
At 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diane Hawk has authored "Touring the Old Redwood Highway" in editions for both Mendocino and Humboldt Counties. Great photos and captions of Hwy 101's eateries, hostelries and tourist traps. The Pepperwood Cafe looked familiar and I think the stump of that big, carved ear of corn was still in Pepperwood recently. Great photos of bridges and roads, too. $23.95. We got ours at Chapman's Gem and Mineral Shop south of Fortuna the Metropolitan exit. Publisher hawk@saber.net.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Rich wrote, "There is an Angelo's in Laytonville! Just in case you really need a pizza break!".

Where the hell is that? There's like nothing in Laytonville, from what I've seen. That said, I love the place.

 
At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Fred, its really neat hearing your stories about venturing into the world. Im proud of you! Yes, there is a much more diverse selection of coffee's availiable, neato right? I think that started happening in the early 90's. And yes, believe it or not, many people are bad drivers. Maybe you should venture into the bay area, or any big city and discover even worse drivers, oh, and cars that have been built in the 21st century. That would be real neat, I bet that would get you excited. And yes, many appliances do require a three pronged outlet.

I am also proud of you for listening to Democracy Now. Michael Reagan must have been taking his Christmas vacation. Too bad you cant do two things at once(Driving and hearing properly). Noam is someone I think you might like. But dont fear Fred my dear, your trailor getting hit in your front yard probably would have happened wether you ventured into the big world or not. So please, dont use it as an excuse not to explore and see the your fellow man. A couple more trips like this, and you may very well be out of your shell in no time Fred!

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Hank wrote, "I see that the Chronicle profiled Radio Bilingue a few months ago.".

Interesting you like the Mexican stuff, Hank. Despite having fond memories of Mexico, having lived there as a child, I always pass up the Mexican channels when I come to them.

 
At 5:30 PM, Blogger Fred said...

5:25 wrote, "Maybe you should venture into the bay area,...".

I venture there regularly, not that I want to. We have to, and have been doing so for most of this year.

 
At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't miss the Aztec Grill at the Chevron in Willits. Sure, its a chain... but at least the hire good folk. Willits is the best. Plus there is a park about 6 blocks NE to hang for a burrito break.

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Carol Ann said...

There is nothing in Laytonville? Not true. There are wonderful smoothies at the Health Food Store, plus other goodies to eat. You can even get biodeisel.

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger samoasoftball said...

Sorry Fred: The new one is in Leggett on Drive Thru Tree road.

 
At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grand parents leased the grocery store in Pepperwood in about 1934 when my dad was a kid, thinking about buying it but decided there was not enough business. So they bought a store in Freedom, Ca. instead, called it Huck's Service, corner of Airport and Freedom Blvd. Store, gas pump and six cabins to rent. That's why I was born in Santa Cruz.

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Hank Sims said...

I always pass up the Mexican channels when I come to them.

When I'm on a road trip, I always dial into the Mexican stations first. Good driving music, and you just can't fuck up norteno as badly as they've fucked up rock and pop and country.

You lived in Mexico as a kid, Fred? Whereabouts?

 
At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And about the photo software. If you use XP the built in software should do it. Just plug your camera into a USB port. I actually prefer the XP software to the Sony software I got with my camera.

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Last time I used the digital camera, seems to me that, once I plugged it in to the usb, a window opened and asked me what program I wanted to use to deal with the camera. I believe it offered two options.

I don't remember if I was using my old e-machines or this Alienware back then.

Yesterday, I plugged it in and an "Add New Hardware" window opened looking for drivers, or whatever. It couldn't find anything and said it couldn't install it.

I tried that maybe three times to no avail. The last time I tried it, no window came up, like the computer didn't even know it was there. This was after I went to the Canon site and downloaded what I thought might be the drivers I needed.

So, I went to my laptop and downloaded the drivers and then plugged the camera in to the computer. The Add Hardware window opened, looked for the drivers, supposedly found them and I thought I had it.

Then, it gave me a few different programs to choose from, to get the pictures, or so I thought.

One was MS Publisher. I tried that and eventually got some message it didn't support the hardware, or some such. I tried some of the other programs and got the same message. I'm stuck.

Maybe I'll try my E-machines computer today? Problem is, I have XP on that machine now too.

Kind of a drag; A digital camera that I can't get the pictures off of.

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Hank wrote, "You lived in Mexico as a kid, Fred? Whereabouts?".

Sorry for the late response. Got caught up elsewhere.

We lived near Mexico City. I always thought we lived in Mexico City because we were there all the time. It wasn't until years later my brother, who is a few years older than me, told me we didn't live in Mexico City but somewhere on the outskirts.

I still remember the address of the house we stayed at the longest: 170 Sierra Guaderama. I'll have to remember to ask the brother just what the name of the city we did live in was.

We lived there maybe three years and moved to California when my father died suddenly.

I've actually got all the old family pictures from life there. Don't know if they're any good after laying in the back storage room all these years.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Hank Sims said...

Was it Chapultepec?

I envy you. Mexico City is still probably my favorite city in the world, and those were its glory days. Depending how old you were when you lived there, you could have traveled up Insurgentes and hung out with Fidel Castro, or maybe gone to one of Ginsberg and Kerouac's parties.

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that after you plug in the camera you need to turn the camera's power on. I use the Window's Fax and Image Viewer to copy pics.

I have some friends that recently bought a house in Guanajuato, Mexico and are in the process of remodeling it. They keep folks updated with their progress by posting on this blog, http://gtoadventure.blogspot.com/

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Hank wrote, "Was it Chapultepec?".

Might have been. We went to Chapultepec Park(?) often enough. Seems to me there was a castle there, built by the French(?). We'd been all through the castle, although I can't recall the details.

Maybe I'll call up the bro' and asked where we lived.

I know I've seen that bronze statue in Mexico City center umpteen times. I know we were very close to Mexico City.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Huck wrote, "I use the Window's Fax and Image Viewer to copy pics.".

Hmmm. I forget what was opening it before. I just tried again on the laptop and found a "Camera and Scanner Wizard". It opened it right up and I was able to e-mail a picture of my wrecked trailer to the insurance company.

I just checked this Alienware machine and it doesn't seem to have the Camera and Scanner Wizard. I'll have to keep looking, but for now, I can always use the laptop and just e-mail the pic to my Alienware.

 

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