Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A change of scenery October 21-22

Monday, October 21......Pam and I are suffering from S.A.D. ( seasonal affective disorder due to lack of sun). Yesterday, Sunday, I went to church (and I mention this because something happened there that I've never seen in. 58 years), and then spent the day looking for something, anything of interest in Arcata or Eureka. I decided not to ride because the KOA we were at had an outdoor hot tub, and I wanted to soak in for as long as I could. First, the church service. I am reminded that I am in the strange and mystical land of California, at every turn, in the most unexpected places. Half way through the mass, the priest grabbed his guitar, stepped into the pulpit, and laid down an acoustical and vocal solo, while the choir sat on their hands. That may not seem like a big deal, but it just reminded me I was in Cali. I sat in the hot tub for as long as I could, but it really didn't even feel that good, as I stared out into the fog and gloom of the day. Pam and I then Jeeped into town, to the Eureka Old Town Historical District and Harborside Boardwalk. It sounded promising, but it was small, not that nice, and deserted, except for  a few, most noticeably, a guy who got pigeons to land on his lap as he fed them potato chips. The other highlight was watching a girl walk out of a restaurant and give her leftovers to a bum ( oh-that's not politically correct), a job challenged, sanitization challenged, transportation challenged, hunger challenged citizen. She then explained to him they were bangers and mash, but I don't think he cared. Eureka is pretty much dominated by scenes similar to that. A citizen then came up to me while I was filling up with gas, and mumbled something as he went through the gas stations trash can looking for aluminum cans. Pam said it best when she innocently said "I'm not so impressed with California so far." We wandered the empty streets looking in closed antique stores at old toys and bottles, after we decided that we didn't want to get tattoos. He's just kidding!  We didn't even think about it! We were so disillusioned that we (Pam) cancelled plans to eat at a historical restaurant along the coast, and we went home and had leftovers (Pam's Mother's famous version of chicken pot pie!), and watched TV. I finally fell asleep at 6:30 am after spending the night reading the worst book I've ever read,  "The Mulching of America", from cover to cover. It had to be the S.A.D.
IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE!!!!!  We decided to abort the whole bicycle through the fog and 40 degree temperature thing for a while, and packed up and headed in land to the San Juaquin Valley, its sun, and its 80 degree temperature. Actually, I looked at the temps in Yosemite National Park, which is on the other side of the state, and decided that it would be a good time to visit. The Federal government stumbled into an agreement, and the parks reopened the other day, the weather there is sunny and highs in the 70's. Sometimes Yosemite has snow by now, so the window of opportunity was too good to be true. Also, Yosemite has been my favorite place on earth since my visits there in 1972 and 1981, and it has been an absolute  " must do" on this trip from the beginning. I thought the kidney stone episode, rain day delays in the state of Washington, and the government shutdown was going to foil my plans to visit this highlight, but no.....we will prevail. 
We will go back to Eureka and pick up the trip where we left off, weather permitting, when we have had our fill of Yosemite, but priorities prevail. A Yosemite visit is out of the question in the spring, because sometimes some roads don't open to anything but snow mobile traffic until mid June! That would be our luck, so we are doing it now. We traveled about a hundred miles south on 101 today, went east on Cali Rt 20, which is one of the only paths through the coastal mountains for an RV our size, found I-5, then a gas station and a campground. We made it about halfway today. The temps constantly warmed up as we traveled, and we descended into the San Juaquin Valley and its farmland for as far as you could see. The mountainous areas were filled with grape producers, as we are very close to the Napa Valley and its famous wine producing country. Quite a change from the fog of the coast. The San Juaquin has memories for me, as trips to California in 1963, 1968, 1972, and 1978 to visit my Grandmother, uncle, and three cousins in Modesto, Merced, and Turlock, in the desert valley are some of the best memories of my childhood. The canals for irrigation, and the sun setting over the coastal mountains were vivid memories as we settled in for the evening, 40 miles north of Sacramento.       

October was another travel day to get to our destination near Yosemite National Park. We got on the road for about four hours of driving after an omelet breakfast at a restaurant near our campground. Truckstop food is still the best! We headed south on I-5 until we were south of Stockton, took a connector over to California 99, which is just like an interstate, until we found Highway 140, near Merced,  which is the road to the park. The road to the park was 80 miles long, straight through agricultural land, until it started to climb into the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The climbing came with twisty roads, and just when it was starting to get narrower and steeper than Pam wanted to drive, we came through the town of Mariposa to our KOA in Midpines, California. It turns out that the KOA is closing for the season on Friday, the 25th, so we only have tonight, and two more nights to see Yosemite, then we are getting run out by our first winter shutdown situation. It's a shame because the temps are in the 70's, there are people everywhere, and it seems perfect. That is not always the case this time of year, but our luck with the weather didn't change the KOA owners vacation plans. 

Walking over the restaurant for dinner, Mike discovered a palm tree!  And he hugged it!
Acres of grape vines!  We are in wine country!

And then a double trailer filled with tomatoes drove by!!!!

Yep, the next 26 miles were VERY curvy, with no shoulders and no guard rails!  What fun!!! NOT

Pulled over for Mike to read a roadside sign and he took a picture of the rig - aren't we pretty?!!

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