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  1. #141
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Off to the West Coast

    Most of my camping gear is stacked in the attic in St Paul. It took quite a bit to sort it all out, and pack it away in a little nook where it will be for at least the next 18 months.... when I hope to be returning.

    Finally we bade our teary farewells as I boarded the Empire Builder for Chicago. It was a long lay-over in Chicago before I was able to board the Californian Zephyr to Emmeryville. Without having booked, I went straight to the hostel where I had stayed on my trip from Los Angeles, all those months ago. (The quoted price is $30 per night, of which the free hostel booking agency keeps 10%. On my first visit the receptionist had told me that if I did not book, and just came in, I could have a bed for $27. So much for free booking agencies!)

    [That evening I had a wonderful time, just as I had in so many places, I visited a Toastmasters Club. I must have visited some two dozen (or more) Toastmasters Clubs this trip.... from Key West to Fairbanks.]

    I boarded the Californian Zephyr with great anticipation. I was so looking forward to going through the Rockies, especially Glenwood Canyon. I had driven it in 2001 and was longing to see it from the other side, from the train.

    The train was not very full, and the trip was most comfortable. I slept well both nights, as I had two seats to myself all the way. During the day I spent most of my time in the lounge and dining cars, and met the most wonderful folk. It was just such an enjoyable trip.... i.e. until we got to Denver.

    At Denver we were stationary for quite a long time. Soon the reason became clear, there was a derailment up ahead, and since it was going to take three days to clear the track..................... we were re-routed through southern Wyoming to pick up the original track again at Salt Lake City.

    It is not as if I can take this train again, next week, or month, or whatever, and am indescribably disappointed at not having gone through Glenwood Canyon. In Salt Lake City we had five or six hours, and were encouraged to go into town. Many did. I chose to stay in the train. Here I was able to pick up my email, and check a few things (such as RTA), since SLC provides free wifi throughout the city.

    I really should not denegrade the trip through Wyoming, which runs parralel with I-80 for most of the way, and was very scenic with light snow covering the countryside. We also saw some wildlife and domestic farm animals.

    But it was not Glenwood Canyon!

    In Emmeryville I had a lovely lady from Couchsurfing greet me at the train and offer me accommodation for the two nights. Next day I went down to wherever it was to pick up a car from Budget. Heading north on 880, back to Berkeley (where I was staying), I still have no idea how I ended up on the Bay Bridge and was forced to go all the way to Treasure Island before I could get off and turn back. But then, I guess if CalOldBlue can get lost in SF with a GPS, I am in good company.... and I did not even need a GPS to help me. I managed to get onto the wrong road, all on my own.

  2. #142
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Homeward bound

    Sunday 11th October I headed for Monterey. On my way there I called in on my daughter-in-law's brother and his family in Santa Clara, and had lunch with them. Left in time to get to Monterey before dark. Straight down 101 and 156. No sighseeing stops this time, did all that back in 2001. This time my only focus on the way was going to be the intersection of 41 and 46 near Cholame.

    Well that was the plan, but of course I could not resist driving along the beach on leaving the Monterey hostel very early next morning. I took quite some time sitting there watching the waves come in... it was almost as if they were washing away my tiredness. So refreshing and relaxing. Just what I was going to need for the day ahead of me.

    All the way to Paso Robles the traffic flowed well and the ever changing surrounding countryside was most enjoyable. I had previously driven 1 and I-5, so this was a nice change. It was well into the afternoon when I turned onto 46 and headed for Cholame. I had been told that there is a lone place there which has something of a James Dean shrine and memorabilia. I did not want to miss it. When I got there, I knew that would not have been a problem. It was the only place around.



    And inside I was not disappointed. It was quite dark in there, and these are the only photos which really worked.





    Sitting down with a drink I relished in the memories as I read the many posters on the walls. (There was a time when I knew the scripts of all three movies off by heart.) Unfortunately once more my luggage allowance stopped me from buying much. I was only too aware that I was already overweight. It was such a great time, and I have to admit, the memory of that place, more than any other, is with me everyday. Yeah! I was diehard fan, and guess I still am. I drove a little further, on to the actual intersection where, in 1955, the world lost a star.



    If it were not for this forum, I would never have known where this intersection is, nor that there is actually a sign and a shrine.

    (Mark Sedenquist Note: Here's a photo of Chris Epting, who did much of the research that prompted this designation)
    And to top all of that, highway 46 is such a pleasant drive through the rolling hills north of Los Angeles.

    I continued on to I-5 at Lost Hills. Just before there, I took this photo.



    Maybe someone can tell me what all these were pumping. At first I thought it may be a collection or some demonstration farm, but there were just too many. And I have no idea why they are there or what they are doing.

    The things you see along the road. This was just after turning onto I-5 at Lost Hills. Guess now that summer was at an end, someone picked up a bargain.



    I-5 into LA is really a spectacular drive through the mountains. The time was getting on and the shadows were getting long,. Still, it was sheer joy driving through that mountain range. I looked around me, as much as I safely could, for signs of the recent fires, but did not spot any.

    Soon I was in the city, and turned off to West Hollywood where I was booked into the only hostel I could find which has free parking on site. It was really an old motel which had converted some rooms into dorms. It was not really a hostel in the sense of getting a hostel experience, but all I had to do was repack my cases, take them to the nearby Greyhound depot to check their weight, and make sure they were ready for check-in..... on Wed eve.

    My flight home was on an A-380 Airbus. It was an experience I had deliberately sought, even though it takes almost an hour longer. It was a good flight, a smooth flight. A few games, a good book and a long sleep, as well as a very tasty meal. Airline food has really improved since my first long haul flight, back in the eighties.

    This was the first time that I experienced a unique combination... I was seated at the right side of the plane, window seat and it was an exceptionally clear morning. So even though we were flying at 40.000 feet the eastern coastline of Australia was clearly visible. I was able to make out the coast from somewhere south of Brisbane, through Newcastle and all the way to Sydney. The Coathanger (Sydney Harbour Bridge) and the Opera House stood out, and show up on the photos I took. Unfortunately they are not clear enough to publish here... not unless someone can enlarge a small section of them to highlight the landmarks.

    Next came Canberra where we were clearly able to see Parliament House, the War Memorial and Lake Burley Griffin. It was not until at about that time that we started to descend into Melbourne, still some 400 air kms away. Living not far from the airport, it is great to see all the familiar landmarks on approach.

    Daughter and grandchildren were there to pick me up and take me home, where I was greeted by my roses, irises and orchids in full bloom. Shortly after, my Jacaranda was in full bloom.



    As the song goes "When the bloom on the Jacaranda tree is here, Christmas time is near."

    It was good to be home.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-21-2010 at 09:50 AM.

  3. #143

    Default As always............

    .......a well-written and enjoyable conclusion to a description of an epic journey.

    Glad you found Cholame and the James Dean Memorial Junction. You were rock-throwing distance from the San Andreas Fault at the junction--it crosses CA 46 at the base of the very hill Mr. Dean came screaming down in his Porsche, seconds before the wreck. So, two earth-shaking events occurred there. Coincidence? I think not.

    At Lost Hills, you passed through the Kern County oil fields, which are some of the older developed oil fields in the US as well as the location of much of the so-called Naval Petroleum Reserve. Next time by, you might enjoy the oil field museum in Taft, CA. I wanted to go there in 2007 but was bound by other scheduling issues to skip it.

    You of course traversed the pass known as "The Grapevine" in the vicinity of Santa Clarita, and then descended into the LA Basin. In 2007, I kept north of the San Gabriels from Victorville, past Palmdale, to and beyond Santa Clarita, enroute to Ventura/Oxnard and my son's US Navy Base.

    Again, great work, and I can hardly wait to read about your next journey.

    Foy

  4. #144

    Default

    This was the first time that I experienced a unique combination... I was seated at the right side of the plane, window seat and it was an exceptionally clear morning. So even though we were flying at 40.000 feet the eastern coastline of Australia was clearly visible. I was able to make out the coast from somewhere south of Brisbane, through Newcastle and all the way to Sydney. The Coathanger (Sydney Harbour Bridge) and the Opera House stood out, and show up on the photos I took. Unfortunately they are not clear enough to publish here... not unless someone can enlarge a small section of them to highlight the landmarks.

    Next came Canberra where we were clearly able to see Parliament House, the War Memorial and Lake Burley Griffin. It was not until at about that time that we started to descend into Melbourne, still some 400 air kms away. Living not far from the airport, it is great to see all the familiar landmarks on approach.
    It makes you a little emotional to get home after such a long time away, doesn't it? I wish I could have enjoyed such a sightseeing tour on approach to LHR but 0430 on a cold London Christmas Eve is sadly no time for sightseeing!

  5. #145
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default James Dean Memorial Intersection

    Wow! Thank you Mark.

    Do you know when that was. I believe it was may years after the crash.

    Funny thing is, when I was in Fairmount IN in 2007, I did not see any information as to how to find the intersection. It may have been there, but can not have been obvious, as I spent quite some time there.

    Lifey who is gathering more information than she knew existed

  6. Default

    that looked like an amzing trip. Truly is a great story. Next may im hitting the road from Maryland for a couple months hopefully eventually getting to alaska as well. Do you have any tips?

  7. #147
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default The Mile Post

    First and foremost I would recommend that you purchase The Mile Post. It is available from around March in good bookstores as well as online. It will be the best investment you have made. The bible of all those who make the trek North To Alaska.

    Do you mean May 2011? or 2012? If the former, I suggest you get onto reading The Mile Post and studying it, then laying out your plans, what you want to see and achieve.

    I would highly recommend that you not construct a tight itenary, as you may find that you will want to stay in some places longer, and others, just fleetingly.

    Above all, drive carefully, take your time and enjoy the trip. Then come back here and tell us all about it.

    Lifey living with the memories

    p.s. Almost forgot.... make sure you keep your camera fully charged.

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