Tuesday, August 25, 2015

North Coast Travelogue: 8/23-8/24

Yet another trip to UCSF. I can't complain as we only have to go twice a year now as opposed to every two weeks back in the dark years. We must be out of practice from the fumbling around we did right before leaving. 

Forgot any number of things, some of which I still can't remember, but I didn't think to pay our Golden Gate Bridge toll until I was about to shut off the computer. No big deal since they just send you a bill if you don't prepay, but I like to get that out of the way. Then Connie remembered she forgot to load up our water. We always take our own water. Then this and that, but we finally managed to get out of the house.

This was the first time taking Connie's new[er] car, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra. I'd be driving and was kinda looking forward to it, although I'm a worrier. I wondered what might go wrong with it. I soon realized it's a nice, comfortable car. Easy to drive with many bells and whistles I wouldn't pay extra for but were nice to have. Handled hills very well, among other things. I was impressed.

I told Connie to gas it up and bring it home before we left without doing anything else so we could check the gas mileage. She didn't, driving it around town and out to Hydesville, but all was not lost. One of the bells and whistles was a digital trip mileage tool that measures gas used per mile. I didn't understand how it worked. Still don't, but figured I'd just write down what gas we bought and our mileage. I'm still not sure as I write this whether I needed to do that.

So what is it with everyone complaining about the price of gas but doing nothing to get better mileage? I've found going 55ish can save 20 to 25% on gas so set up the cruise control for that as soon as we got on the freeway. Everyone was passing us. Maybe not too much faster, at least some of them, but going pretty fast. It was that way going down and coming back, with maybe only 3 cars that seemed satisfied going 55-57mph behind or in front of us. 

Oh, I get it. They just complain about the greedy oil companies

We get to One Log House for a break and realize something else we forgot: the other set of car keys. I'd actually thought about it before we left, but then forgot. I guess we both distrust electronic door locks and, If we locked the key inside the car, we're screwed. 

Why that would be any different than a regular car key, I'm not sure, but we both felt uncomfortable with only one set of keys. Oh, well. Too late at that point. I just made a point to give her the key whenever we left the car, whatever difference that would make.

One of the things I worried about with the car was how well the air and air conditioning worked. I just turned on the air at first. That was all that was necessary in my pickup truck. Once we got to Southern Humboldt and temperature started climbing, it got pretty warm with just air. When we left One Log House I turned on air conditioning, I was relieved to feel a blast of cold air come from the dash. It worked well the rest of the trip, with no noticeable drain on engine power.

Broke with tradition for lunch. We usually eat at Taco Bell in Willits. When we were at the Safeway intersection I was thinking Taco Bell might be packed with so many cars on the road. I suggested we stop at Jack In The Box. It was right on the corner next to us. If nothing else, their commercials make their burgers look good. Let's see how they really are.

I ordered the Portabello Mushroom Burger, or whatever it was called. Looked just like the TV commercial, except the commercial had me expecting it to be about half a size larger than it actually was. Good, but pricey at almost $6.00 just for the burger alone.

Got gas at Brown's on the south end of Willits. I can't be sure but get the feeling that place might not be around much longer. Went to use the bathroom and both toilets were out of order. They were out of order on our way back, too, with no sign I could see there were plans to fix them. The one urinal was working...for now.

First time I checked that trip mileage thing was at Brown's. It showed the supposed miles per gallon for that particular trip- the trip starting sometime before we left, whenever Connie reset the counter. It said we were getting something like 28.9 mpg, if memory serves me, but that was just Eureka down to Willits, with miles in Eureka before we left. Not bad, especially considering I only put a bit over 5 gallons in the tank to fill it back up.

Be careful heading south of Willits where the new freeway bypass starts. Bad curves. There's a sign saying Caution, or some such, because of a freeway onramp. I was thinking there might be a freeway onramp being built, but so what? You drive by onramps all the time. Turns out there's a couple fairly tight curves there that you might not make going 50mph. Slow down for that one. It's that way going both ways.

Going through Santa Rosa was easy enough but things clogged up through Petaluma and all the way through there and beyond. It was 15 to 25mph for most of probably 15 miles or more. I never saw anything to attribute it to. It was miles past the Petaluma River bridge that things finally sped up.

Then it clogged up again when we got to Marin County. Again, no reason I could see for it. We were thinking of stopping at the AW Root Beer in San Rafael to pick something up for dinner, but traffic was so clogged up we didn't want to have to fight getting on the freeway again. 

We had something delivered later. Called up this place, at least I think that's the place. We didn't want pizza, though. I ordered a couple turkey sandwiches. Connie ordered a salad. Good enough for less than $25.00 and I was actually pretty filled up with the sandwiches. Had we ordered from AW I probably wouldn't have been as satisfied. We decided to bring something from home, or buy something in Willits, next time.

No problems driving to UCSF next morning, despite bad omens from the local TV traffic news with shots from their traffic helicopter. They were saying all the freeways to the south of the bridge were real slow. No mention about north, although they did say "other freeways, too". But not a problem. We flew straight into UCSF and found all kinds of parking on our favorite level of the parking garage.

Sat and sat in the waiting room, but I was entertained for a while. This was the first trial test of my new tablet. Until I ran out of things to do with it, time seemed to fly by. UCSF either changed their wifi system, or the tablet works better with it. I didn't even have to log in. With my laptop, I often couldn't even log in. I couldn't get a few things to work at UCSF or the motel we stayed at, but overall it used up my time well and was able to take care of my daily online business.

We finally were called to an exam room at our appointed time. Doctor was at least a half hour late though...again. That pisses me off. After about 35 minutes went by I asked Connie if she was willing to leave if the doc didn't show up by 2pm. That would be an hour late. She agreed, but a few minutes later we saw the doctor walk by and shortly thereafter she came in. 

We left a bit after three. I'm still pissed, but what can I do? Unlike the day before, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way to Willits. Stopped at Brown's to get more gas. This time it was about 7 1/4 gallons I put in the tank. I didn't get that as it's usually pretty close when refueling going either way. Connie suggested maybe the real slow traffic the day before gave us bad mileage. Maybe, but 2 1/4 gallons more? I didn't bother checking that trip app to see what it said. Maybe today if I remember.

Got home right about 8pm and I'm pissed that we probably could have gotten home earlier had it not been for Doctor Come Lately. Oh, well. Back to normal for now.


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Julie Timmons said...

For many years my stop in Willlits was the McDonald's. Their bathroom was a famiiar as home. Lately I stop at JITB. I like the fajita pitas. Nice bland road road.

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Part of the reason we stopped there was hoping their bathrooms wouldn't have people waiting to use them as is often the case at Taco Bell. No lines, but I went in to take a leak and there was some guy in the toilet stall grunting and groaning. Must have had a tough one to get out. Kinda ruined the mood so I left and used the bathroom at Brown's instead.

I believe Connie had some sort of fajita thing there. We'll probably stop there again, but I try to avoid being anywhere near busy intersections. Wasn't at all hard to get in and out of, though.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On your next trip, you might consider Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg. They have wonderful lunch selections. As it is further south than Willits, what I generally do is stop for breakfast at Woodrose Cafe in Garberville, then lunch at Costeaux.

If dinner is desired on the road, consider Spoonbar in Healdsburg located in the H2 Hotel.

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Costeux is good, I agree. But there is a sandwich shop in Healdsburg called Wild Sage that is better, in my opinion. They have great sandwiches and really good empanadas. Seriously, look it up on yelp. It is literally less than a minute off the highway at the dry Creek exit. Easiest on and off ever.

If in Healdsburg for dinner, I would suggest an establishment with tapa style dining such as Willies Seafood Bar, Chalkboard or Bravas or hitting one of the amazing mexican food places in town. You seem to get more food for your money at mexican establishments and tapa joints. Spoonbar is really expensive and filled with tourists since it's at a hotel.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Thanx for the suggestions. Only problem with Healdsburg is I'm boycotting it. Authoritarianville, all the way. In fact, aside from Cloverdale, I try my best to avoid stopping anywhere in Sonoma County. Marin County, too, but since it's about the only place close to SF to spend the night, we're kinda stuck with Marin.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Julie Timmons said...

The BEST food is at the Peg House in Leggett -wonderful burgers- but at an awkward distance. Only an hour and a half from Eureka.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

We stopped at Peg House once, maybe twice. We enjoyed it. The main problem being the bathrooms are disgusting, or so Connie said. I didn't use the bathrooms. I just used the porta potti out front. But, both places are close enough together, time wise, for bathroom purposes. One Log House wins with their bathrooms which are very clean.

We used to also buy sandwiches at One Log House. They stopped offering them for whatever reason (something to do with the Richardson Grove project?) and only offered pre- made burritos, plus their awful hot dog deal. I noticed sandwiches were back on their menu Sunday but didn't think to ask if they're the same ones they made before.

We generally stopped eating at OLH although Connie usually buys a courtesy latte for us using the bathroom. This last time I bought a Toll House cookie out of their relatively new ice cream freezer. Real cold freezer. That cookie was hard as a rock!

Peg House wins out on the food front, although we didn't try the hamburgers. I also like the ambiance of Peg House with all the laid back people stopping in while on vacation. One Log House seems to draw the more formal type of tourists- older and "better" dressed. Peg House- hippie types dressed down. I prefer the hippie types. Makes for a more fun atmosphere.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another alternative stop while they're open for the season (let's hope this is not their last season) is Confusion Hill. Stop for a hot dog, clean restrooms, soda, smoothie, milkshake, fries, onion rings. Good stuff, good people, and good memories. Say hello to the chipolope!!

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Healdsburg "authoritarianville"?

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"Why is Healdsburg "authoritarianville"?"

Just follow what goes on with their city council. I read about them regularly in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat. The city that wants to control everything. They even raised the age to buy tobacco in the city to 21 recently, among other things.

About the only thing I can think of on the upside is they managed to get an an initiative on their ballot to stop water fluoridation. Naturally, the effort failed with over 60% supporting fluoride, but I'll give them credit for trying.

State Assembly elect, Jim Woods, use to sit on their council before going to state assembly. No surprise he's spearheading the effort to raise the smoking age statewide to 21. He's also a dentist who fought against the initiative to stop water fluoridation. I hate his guts just from those two things alone.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"Confusion Hill"

I've only driven past there, but not since the bridge was put in. I thought of stopping by there yesterday just to see how many cars were parked since the bridge was put in.

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think I will stop at Confusion Hill on my next trip south. This type of Roadside Americana is fast disappearing and we need to support it while it is still here.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I might well do that myself, if we're not pressed for time. You can still see a number of old road side stops along 101 down there. I recall back when some of them used to be open.Is that Drive- Thru Tree in Leggett still open?

I do kinda wish they'd take down their old signs, though. At least some of them. I know one down there- I think it's this side of Standish- Hickey- has an old Coca Cola sign up. No sense in having that up anymore.

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Drive Thru Tree in Leggett is still open, but the Tree House just south of Confusion Hill has closed. Sometime, it is interesting to use the old Highway 101 for as much as possible (Avenue of the Giants, Redwood Drive through Redway, Highway 273 at Cook's Valley, State Street from Redwood Valley through Calpella and Ukiah, Main Street through Cloverdale then through Asti, Geyserville, and Healdsburg), Old Redwood Highway both north and south of Santa Rosa and through Cotati and Penngrove.)

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

And you're forgetting the old place Highway 101 used to go thru: The Slab. Remember that? I forget exactly where it is. I think it's in Mendo County. Just a small Slab of asphalt around the side of current 101 that was quite hairy to navigate. One of the local papers featured it a while back. Barricaded now, b7but Bill Barnum pointed out the entrance to me years ago. I usually drive by without noticing it. I'll have to walk that one of these days.

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Slab, or as some called it, the "Half Bridge" is just south of Confusion Hill and just north of Bridges Creek.
Go about 3 miles past Confusion Hill and look for the steel gate that was installed on the old highway. I believe the by-pass was built about 1976.

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Department of Public Works built this short section of the Redwood Highway in 1923. Although the roadbed is too narrow today by any reasonable standard, it remains a good example of what careful engineering can accomplish if proper value is given to the natural landscape."--William Bronson in "How to Kill a Golden State" (1968) on the slab/half bridge.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Some pictures of The Slab that I found. Looks wider than I remember it. Scary piece of road to traverse:

At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually miss driving on it as it was a real adventure, especially south bound. I also miss the view point for Squaw Rock between Hopland and Cloverdale. You could look straight up this huge rock from the parking area. The expansion to four lanes did away with this view point.


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