Friday, 26 June 2009


I am frustrating by technology. Can't download latest photos off camera .... program seems to have vanished. And computers are supposed to make life easier. Jury is out on that one forever.

We had a leisurely morning on Thursday, one week ago .... Is it really that long since I up-dated here? Hotel check-out and car pick up were arranged for mid-day. Breakfast a little more healthy ... granola, yoghurt and fresh blueberries & strawberries. Not so much walking as a very hot day. Down O'Farrell to collect car. We have a shiny white brand new Kia. Had 15 miles on the clock. On our first day we added 70 miles or 112 km.

TWJ had no trouble driving back to Hotel ..... remember we are in the centre of San Francisco! The Hertz man gave us his best route out of the city and that proved easy too. For some reason the fuel tank was on empty so that was priority. Without looking TWJ put in 91 because that is regular and cheapest fuel at home but the most expensive here. Won't make that mistake again. Petrol here is aprox NZ$3.50 gal, roughly half the price.

We drove over Golden Gate Bridge so at last I have crossed it. San Francisco side in fog ...... typical summer weather, sunshine on the bridge as we exited. Were on a motorway ... nerve wracking for me as too fast and we travelled one lane in, on 4 lanes of traffic, so traffic whizzing past my wrong passenger side. Had lunch at a fancy shopping centre, could have spent buckets of money on clothes, up-market furnishings etc. We sat outside in the shade of a pretty tree. Too hot to spend long out of the air conditioning although somehow we managed to lose our way back to the car walked what seemed like miles around the outside of the comlex. Tried to get our GPS to give us an alternative route but we seem to have forgotten all the programming tricks we learned last time we were here.

We stopped at a little town called Sonoma in the middle of wine country and other specialist/organic farms but too hot so got back in the car and ended up in Santa Rosa, exhausted by heat and driving. I had planned to be further east last night but we'd gone far enough for the first day. I got mad with TWJ for driving too hard on the right ... I kept feeling as though we were going to fly off the road or hit a barrier. He got mad with me for telling him he was driving too fast and we both got frustrated with our navigator.

This is our first time ever in Motel 6 and it has been comfortable ... the air conditioning works kind of, ...it goes until we are freezing and have to turn it down then it doesn't seem to come on again. Lots of road noise here .... now I can see why ... there is a motorway within 100m. I thought we had left noisy traffic behind in San Francisco. We were staying in a similar area to last time, 5 years ago, and sirens go all the time. Sometimes we wondered what serious emergency was going on as fire, police and ambulance screamed into the air. It all felt so familiar.

The following day we chose to have breakfast on the road and stopped at a road side diner at Calistoga, after driving through very pretty road past the petrified forest. We could have gone for a walk but our budget doesn't allow us to do anything that costs which is a little sad. We continued our round about route and bought cherries from a grower's road-side stall at Winters and shopped at Lira's in Rio Vista where we spoke with a staff member who used to be married to a w New Zealander. Didn't ask what happened to his marriage. We had lots of detours. We followed our GPS down a very counry road to nowhere before we turned. I took some wild-flower photos which will put in as soon as I get my photos on a CD. We ended the day at a Spanish styled Motel in Sutter's Creek. Hi there debby. Sorry we couldn't meet up with you but realise that sometimes things don't work out and I see you have been busy with your Dad. I loved the little town of Sutter's Creek and took many photos.

It was hot and stuffy in our Motel room when I woke about 6 am. It was refreshing and cool outside so grabbed a Californian, picked ripe, peach and stood on the balcony overlooking the shrubbery. There I enjoyed the fresh morning, standing in my nightie, dripping juice over the balustrade. That peach was soooo delicious.

On Saturday we drove more or less directly north to Redding zig-zagging across countryside through farmland. This is something we love to do at home so not surprising we do it here. Sunday I went to Church at Bethel while TWJ read in the car under a shady tree. Again it was quite a warm day, saved for me by a cooling breeze out in the open. The afternoon vanished as we had a leisurely lunch at Olive Garden. We shared the special of the day and ate lots of salad. It was a perfect afternoon to go down by the river and find a cool tree to laze under but we had some shopping to do.

First we went to SafeWay and decided after a lot of looking around we didn't want to pay their price so we went to Riley's or Raley's, a shop we knew from our previous visit. We bought enough food to take on the road for the the next day and laundry supplies. It took us an hour. I will never laugh again when I see tourists spend hours in the shop while they check prices and labels to make sure they are getting what they want at the best price. By this time it was too late to go to evening Church so we spent the evening doing our laundry and draping it all around on coat-hangers to save on drying charges. I prefer to avoid dryers as the commercial ones are so hard on clothes. TWJ was very sceptical that it would all be dry next morning but of course it was and we packed and hit the road again on our way North to Medford in Oregon. We stopped a few times, at Shasta City, Yreka and a rest area by the Kalm..... River.

Tuesday we reached Salem by some round about routes and last night stayed at the Econo Lodge in Kelso Washington State so are getting close to Vancouver BC. We had an interesting day yesterday. Left Motel and went to River Front Park to see the Carousel and walk. Found a team of workers putting up tents for the Beat Festival, (maybe some kind of rock music), and we had to look at the carousel through the windows because we were an hour before opening time. There was a Farmer's Market but we couldn't hang around an hour for that to open either. We drove out to the Silver Falls State Park and drove through because there were signs everywhere not to leave the car without the paid parking ticket. It was a lovely area but we have become extremely budget conscious. Our money is very tight and every dollar counts as this point. We were impressed by the acres of Christmas trees, trimmed with dense foliage. There were even some blue cedars if you were bored with a dark green tree.

From there we went to Silverton for lunch and chose badly for me. It was some kind of restaurant serving basic home style cooked food but the offering was not really to my taste. TWJ had a beef sandwich ... at least it wasn't smothered with gravy as my roast dinner was. The meat, mashed potato and cauliflower were all beautifully cooked then ruined by a bucket of gravy and grated orange coloured cheese. Filling and cheap so mustn't complain. Didn't really see the murals a feature the town is noted for and drove up to look at the Oregon Garden but again the entry too rich for us.

After we left and were on our way to Mount Angel we were charmed to see a little group of deer grazing beside the railway. Traffic was light so we pulled off and as I got out of the car they began walking across the road right in front of me, stopping the traffic completely. I look forward to posting the photos later. Mount Angel proved to be a disappointment so we then continued on the non-motorway roads to the south east of Portland. We stopped for coffee coffee at a likely Cafe in Gresham. This cafe is obviously famous and has lots of awards for it's coffee but I can't say I was impressed. I long for good coffee served in a CUP. On the way we stopped at a farm roadside stall and bought some delicious raspberries which I finished off for the healthy part of my breakfast.

From Portland we set the navigator to miss motorways and go out west of the city so we could go to St Helens then on into Washington State. John complained of feeling shaky when we finally sat down at Arby's .... another fast food outlet, about 9 pm for tea. It's not surprising.

We drove across Portland at rush hour ... actually we were doing OK until stuck in a traffic jam caused by roadworks as we headed for Oswega Lake area of the city. Double lane traffic was squashed into single lane and then one way traffic controlled by the contractors. We had less than 2 miles to our land-mark stop to re-program the GPS and it took us an hour. Pity we didn't have local knowledge or we could have avoided that road. We finally were outside the city limits and I put the next stage of our route into the GPS. We ended up on a gravel back country road going way up into the hills. We went up so high my ears were clicking. There were about 10 miles of gravel and John was not impressed, and for me nail biting and scary. It was a relief to do the last 40 or so miles on a quiet, provincial road, all flat and mostly 55MPH especially as it was late. It was after 8 pm by the time we booked in at the Motel. Daylight here until 9 pm or so.

Today we are not sure how far we will go. As close to the Canadian Border as we can manage but priority now for our stopping place is the cheapest Motel deal we can find. We now have some discount books that are very useful.
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