. elsewhere . . letters from the inaccessible .


4 september 2002

The Great American Fever Trip of 2002 (Part One), or
  Protagonist Turned Procrastinator in Three Easy Steps

I've been quiet, yes I have. Months have gone by with nary a peep from me on this here web-space. For that, I humbly apologize. You see, this year has been as much of a whirlwind (of not more) than any year previous, but strangely I have been silent on this front, this wink-wink/nudge-nudge web space where oblique is my middle name. Sometimes. The year has been occupied of course, by life with my sweetie, and, well, beyond that isn't much anyone's business.

Some of you may recall when I used to expound upon the nature of relationships, the nature of friendships-through-relationships, and how it was very common for someone to, basically, disappear when attached. I seem to recall that I said that I would probably be subject to the same phenomenon, as bad if not worse than everyone else. And I discovered that it's true: when was the last time I talked to most of you (that is, if you still come by this little space to visit at all anymore)? I'm not getting maudlin, but it is something I have done, and am doing, knowingly. I won't deny it -- I've disappeared, head-in-the-clouds, what-were-you-sayin?, in love. I don't chase anyone down anymore... but then neither do I chase them away. Alas.

So it says up there in that wonderfully color-bound sweet blueness up there that this entry is about "The Great American Fever Trip of 2002." In June, my sweetie and I (actually, it was primarily me with her assent) decided that we needed to get away for a week or more. Go out there into the world, where a haggard Web Producer and a Barstow-bound sweet thang had had no opportunity theretofore to go. Please excuse that abominable sentence. We were headed, of course, up the coast, up PCH to San Francisco and back.

The reasons I haven't written about this trip until now are many and varied: Post-traumatic stress, time to recover, the last week's problems, who can count the reasons? Suffice to say, here goes your humble host, on the blow-by-blow.

The Story of Friday

Friday morning, we awoke excited and thinking about the expanse of a thousand miles which lay before us. After the standard morning-business of getting ready and last-minute packing, we went to the car wash (for the ANODE blue cruiser) and to the Starbucks (for my sweetie). Post-car wash/Starbucks, we proceeded along Route 66 into lovely Santa Monica, where we made a pit stop for gas and the swirling nexus of some gentle ribbing and debate between the two of us: Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 edition, the arbiter of all which is a bone-of-contention between two geeky trivia nuts.

We departed lovely Santa Monica and drove up PCH, up the pretty coast through Malibu and into the most famously quaint little town Oxnard. Actually Oxnard is neither famous nor quaint (discuss!), but it is a nicely ugly town which can't seem to decide if it's a bustling small-town, a satellite of Los Angeles, a barrio, a farmington, or a wannabe burgeoning mini-metropolis built on the toil and sweat of the railroad chiefs. Around about here, we shamelessly entered a Marie Callender's looking like we were going to meet someone when in fact we went there to meet someone named John (that is, drop the kids off at the pool, "use" the facilities).

After the awe and wonderment of Oxnard, we proceeded to Santa Barbara, the home of Toad the Wet Sprocket and the nicest public restrooms known to man (at the tourist center there near the beach). We were on our way to the Chumash Painted Caves State Historic Park. Out of Santa Barbara, we proceeded up the hill on the 154 State Road, and turned right onto Painted Cave Road: this is the windiest (not air wind, but wind a clock wind) little nearly-dirt road, and was actually great fun to drive up the roughly 15 minutes to get there. Once there, in the shade of the trees, we discovered that the only parking at this "State Park" was actually with your car hanging roughly half on the road (remember that this road is barely wide enough for a car with its side mirrors), half onto the embankment which sloped off steeply into the abyss of the Santa Barbara wilderness. And there were about ten or twelve cars parked there, which had taken all the prime spots.

We parked and got out of the car, only to discover that the Painted Caves State Park was actually the "Shallow Painted Cave Locked Behind a Gate/Grate Which Permits Visitors Only The Merest Glimpse Into Its Insides Apparently Only During A Full Moon And Nothing More Unless You Count The 'Nature Trail' State Historic Park-If-You-Can-Handle-The-Steep-Dropoff" and it was, as you can imagine, seeing booming business, clearly overcrowded. You see, that was the full extent of the park: a caged-in cave, a plaque, and a nature trail. And by overcrowded, I refer to the roughly ten people we saw there, as the entire State Park itself seems only able to accommodate three. While we were not terribly impressed with the cave (and I regretted not brining better hiking shoes), the ride up that small road was fun.

Back in the Cruiser, we proceeded along the Santa Barbara county inland toward everyone's favorite little Danish/Dutch Tourist Trap-City, Solvang. Now I'm sounding particularly sarcastic here, but you have to understand that a T-Shirt store with smart-ass T-Shirts in a building right next to a Windmill is a bit tourist trap smelling, at least. And while I'm sarcastic about the city and its premise, I am absolutely serious about the pastries. They were damn fine pastries. Lunch was had at the Bit O' Denmark (we had sandwiches, which are clearly of Danish origin) and we proceeded through some shops looking for a hat for me and then decided to get the truck out of Dodge, er, Copenhagen.

After leaving Solvang, we drove up the coast further and at last after some hours to our destination for the evening, Morro Bay, with the famous Morro Bay Rock. We checked into the Best Western just north of town and decided that dinner was a good thing to be had, so we went down to the waterfront. Repelled by either long waits, high prices, or truly seedy atmosphere, we finally settled on a nice little place (which smelled slightly funny) called the Tail O' the Whale, where we ate fried shrimp (not to be confused with Bit O' Denmark where we ate sammiches).

Post-dinner, we ventured in search of a Vons, bought some groceries, and completely continued to not expect what nastiness was going to befall us, only a few hours later. But that's a story for next time.

Come back next time when the protagonist and his antagonist (just kidding, my sweetie!) brave the wrath of Zeus!

musings of señor prod.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.


©2001 Timothy A. Clark -|-