Monday, April 20, 2015

East Texas

What a thrill to experience the peak of wildflower season!

I spent the weekend in Austin visiting Sharon (standing) and sister Lisa (seated).  

I’m overnighting in Houston and that means tomorrow brings a release from the gravitational pull of Texas.  It always feels like an accomplishment to cross that state line. 

Driving through the traffic and sprawl of Houston can be intimidating.  Note the 7 lanes of interstate. 

Right-hand lanes continually disappear and jarringly reappear, making it difficult to just commit to a lane as heavy traffic encases you at the speed of sound.  This seems to go on forever and it’s always a relief to survive intact.  

What would we solo travelers do without the calm guidance of GPS?    

My interior decor project continues so I couldn’t resist a stop here.

The massive store is filled with gorrrrgeous things (as Patsy and Edina used to say). 

I finally find a use for the cup holders in the rear living area of the van. 

In other news, earlier in the week, I added a bit of whimsy to the galley.  

 Only 676 miles from home!

Friday, April 17, 2015

West Texas

Mention crossing Texas to road-trippers and you’ll get an eye-roll.  Mention traveling through West Texas and you’ll get the eye-roll and some profanity as well.

Actually, the landscape between El Paso and San Antonio is quite lovely.  

It’s just the endlessness of it that causes the whining.  The sprawling mesas, green this time of year, impart a sense of unmatched vastness. 

Not to mention the buttes.

At the moment, the wildflowers are stunning, though not meant to be photographed at 65 MPH. 

I stayed behind the slow-moving thunderstorms all day, only reaching them about 40 miles from my destination.  After 4 months in the desert, the rain is a novelty. 

My radar map proved invaluable today.  It's free from Amazon.  I also find it useful as a quick-reference roadmap. 

Spending tonight at Exit 505 – which means I have only 43% left of Texas. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Exit Zero

About 5 PM today, I cross into the great flat beyond that is Interstate 10 through Texas. 

Texas Forever.  That’s what the kids on Friday Night Lights always said.  To that I respond – Yes.  It Is.  I mean, the state takes up 6 pages in my Atlas and probably yours as well.

Only 881 miles to go.  

There are much worse problems to have. The bonus is the impending visit to my old bud Sharon in Austin.  That’s rather like being sentenced to 30 years and then getting paroled after 6 weeks. 

So the next few days will be about cranking out the miles while dodging tumbleweeds. Not such a tough assignment with: a comfortable driver’s seat, podcasts in the queue, and plenty of  hi-calorie snacks.

I’m here for the night.

Parked under a flag the size of a football field. In 25 MPH winds, it provides a loud arrhythmic soundtrack.

Last night was spent parked among the Big Boys at the bustling Love’s Truck Stop in Benson, AZ.   

The microcosm of a truck stop always fascinates.  It’s a glimpse into a purely American subculture and I highly recommend it.  In the unlikely event a publisher ever approaches me to write a coffee-table book, I would do one on Long-Haul Dogs and The Truckers Who Love Them. 

Two days ago, in Tucson, I overnight at one of my favorite blacktop stops.  

The GDB has a doctor’s appointment the next day in order to address a short list of nagging issues.  All is well!  

I spend the waiting time scurrying in and out of the newer model Roadtreks but find, once more, I wouldn't trade the GDB for any of them. 

Pictured below is one of a series of dust storms along 1-10 in New Mexico today.  Visibility goes to ZERO when a storm like the one in the distance reaches the interstate.   Chilling to think about that happening at 75 MPH.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

So Long San Diego!

The GDB is finally pointed east.  It’s time to get back home.  I miss my house, my peeps and my pup (who, as you can see, is not into cuddling).  

To think I left home on New Year's Eve and here it is mid-April!

After one last happy hour with the gang last night, we say our goodbyes.  Until this summer, that is.  When there is certain to be more of this

and this

Karl Strauss Brewery in La Jolla

and ....

San Diego was a blast but I'm ready to leave the congestion behind and head out for the highway.  I'm back in Alpine tonight where it's blessedly quiet.

I’ll long remember the glorious views from our hike around the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. [See also Gayle’s write-up that includes an unforgettable Sea Lion pic].  

Gayle and Suzanne

Jim takes his best shot. 

The Torrey Pine species is found in only 2 places on the planet and provides an ideal example of how Nature does things in Her own perfect time.

Speaking of nature, this is what happens when hikers have to pee.

Now for something completely unnatural.  

We visit the Gliderport situated atop Torrey Pines' famed bluffs.  It is quite a sight watching these daring souls take off and land. 

 And so we come to one last night on the town.

The Hamburger Altar is a good sign we are in the right place.

I order the 50% beef 50% Bacon Burger with 3 toppings - Vampire Sauce, Cole Slaw, and Fritos. 


Our waiter is fascinated by this group of nomads.  He wants to know if we all travel in the same RV. Debbie explains that, yes, we are Jim's sister-wives.  Too funny!

Untill next time!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

More San Diego

... where the weather is always fine.

Point Loma

Web Photo

We spent part of a gloriously beautiful Monday at Cabrillo National Monument located on Point Loma.  The views of the city are far too spectacular to capture with my point-and-shoot but this gives you some idea.  

Web Photo

The monument also contains the Old Point Loma Lighthouse which lit up the coast beginning in 1855.  However, after a only 36 years, a new lighthouse was constructed at another area of the point due to the frequent low clouds at this location.  

Thanks to Suzanne for the following photo shares: 

It was a treat to tour here with Suzanne, who added yet another lighthouse visit to her impressive list.  Sadly, the tower itself is not accessible the day we are there. 

Suzanne looks down on me and Debbie 

We Have a Cow

Things were going quite well until we stopped for a late lunch at Millers Field, a sports bar that was packed (and oh so loud!), filled as it was with Padre fans watching the season opener against the cross-state rival Dodgers.

But we were there for the Twofer burger menu.  Our pre-determined strategy was to order 4 burgers to split between the 3 of us.  Seeing the amount of food delivered to our table was disquieting and also slightly embarrassing.

But we got over it quickly and proceeded to devour almost all of it like the pigs we now know we are.  And yes, it was delicious. 

Our waitress goes above-and-beyond to capture an aerial shot of our greedy feast. 

We paid for our gluttony the rest of day as we waddled around feeling disagreeable around the midsection.  As in …. Now, where did I pack those sweatpants? 

Next on the agenda was grocery shopping at Sprouts and Trader Joe’s and I can tell you, I’ve never felt less like buying groceries. 

USS Midway

Web Photo

Military history aside, I wanted to visit this WW II aircraft carrier as I’ve never been on an oceangoing vessel this large.  The tour is extensive (and self-guided with the aid of an audio device).

Winding your way through the ship takes you through bulkheads that seem to stretch to infinity.

After leaving the Midway, my all-day transit pass did not go to waste.

Taking the Trolley

After strolling the Embarcadero, I landed in

A beautiful area filled with nice architecture and overpriced bistros. 

Noodle Heads

The day ended with a rendezvous at Ocean Beach

for dinner.

We heard good things and thus were willing to endure a 40-minute wait for a table in the tiny eatery. Warning: this is not a place you want to go for some conversation with friends.

My camera must have been rocked by the decibels.

The beer was good as were the crispy noodles but, once again, we were blasted with a continuously deafening din from patrons shouting to be heard over the ear-shattering music.

What is up with that?