by YONA C. RIEL

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 13 ...The Journey home..

    I intended on driving straight through from San Fransisco to Eugene via I-5 but when I discovered this weird little cut off on my map I took it.  I had been on the road for almost two weeks by this time and driving home proved to be more tiring than I had thought it would.  And I-5 has to one of the most boring drives ever.  Does anybody else feel this way or have I driven it way too many times.
    I discovered a sweet little town on this serendipitous detour called Shasta.  The town had some beautiful old ruins right in the middle of town so of course I had to stop and take some pictures.  According to the sign this was a bank in a once thriving gold mining town.  
     As you can see on the sign below Shasta was quite the town in it's day.  The sign says "by 1854, Shasta was home to California's longest row of brick buildings north of San Fransisco."
    I took a several shots of the ruins but this next one turned out to be one of my favorites...
     As you can see the town has spent the money to retrofit the brick buildings with huge steel rods.

     I love surprises like this.  Makes me want to drive ONLY on roads I have never been on before.  But I was headed home so after a few hours of winding through the mountains I landed in Arcata for the night.  I was really hoping for a sweet deal on a good but cheap motel room but I was too tired to look much further than the first one I saw. 
   After getting settled in the room I walked a few doors up and had a delicious quesadilla and a beer.   The next morning I headed north up Interstate 1 and soon found a beautiful beach to stop at.  Since I was ending my journey soon I took this shot to symbolize it.  Footsteps in the sand leading to a rock mountain says it all...
    Even though I needed to get home I knew I wasn't going to see the ocean for awhile so I hung out a little longer and snatched a few more shots.   I thought the tire made for an interesting focal point...
     And below is the site of a beach sculpture I once made years ago.  The sculpture has long since been washed out to sea and now there is graffiti to take it's place...

    I continued up Highway One.  Fortunate for me it was a beautiful day making for a nice welcome back to Oregon.   I resorted to a 'drive-by shooting' for the bridge you see below...
    Even though I slept well in Arcata I was still tired and anxious too.  I got home about 6 that night and quickly jumped into the bathtub,  leaving the unpacking of my loaded to the top vehicle for when I woke up... 
    Thanks for following me on my birthday road trip. You all were such great company.   And as always your comments are welcomed and appreciated...  xo  yona c. riel

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day twelve... San Fransisco with Joan and Teresa...

     On Monday, Pam and I drove south down to San Gregorio and Pescadero, two places she used to take me when I was having a bad day.  The first picture is of the cave we used to sit in on windy days so we could have a little camp fire down on the beach.  Every year the water makes it bigger and bigger so now you could have 8 people in there and still have room for a fire.
    Here's a shot I took enhanced with the toy camera on my Iphone.  It makes an already surreal landscape even more so..

     There were also several elaborate dwellings made from driftwood on the beach so I wandered over and took a picture of one...
    Then I found some amusing beach graffiti made with charcoal sketched onto the sandy colored rock.  I see art everywhere and I suppose this person does too...
    After San Gregorio we wanted to find the beach that looks like a moonscape.  It is just up the road 5 miles in Pescadero.   I have never seen anything like this place in all my travels...
     Here's another picture with a little wider view.  We both love this place and were so happy we got to visit it again.
     
    At 5pm we headed back north on HWY One and in Half Moon Bay, the home of Odwalla Corporate offices we found a homegrown funky little fish house to have some clam chowder in.  Pam had to get on the plane later that night so we went into the city and I got a cup of tea at my favorite place, Peet's coffee on market street.  After all these years the same woman was managing it.  She told me she had a kidney disease and needed to have the benefits and that Peet's was a good match for her.  She had just recently celebrated her 16th anniversary with them.   (Understandable to me, I worked more than 20 yrs for Odwalla).
     A little later that night I dropped Pam off at her sister's house in the mission then I went over to Potrero Hill, my home for seven years during the early 1990's.  I stayed with my old friend Joan and her new girlfriend Teresa.  We chatted until 11 that night and the next day Joan and I decided to take a long walk through the city.
    San Fransisco has long been a city close to my heart not only for it's complexities and micro-cultures but for the amazing amount of random art strewn upon walls, walkways and store windows.
    This first one is a store window that uses brown paper bags from Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Safeway to make an interesting backdrop for the life size cutout..
    We then walked Clarion Alley which has graffiti most of the way up... this first one had a mannequin's hands and face embedded into a substrate that I never did figure out what material had been used.....
     Then there was a mural with the message that we are all aliens.   The same mural was here the last time I walked this alley but I took another picture because the colors still make it stand out for me...
    The next mural has been around for many years now.  It is on Harrison street around where it intersects with 18th.  I just love how they incorporate the domes on the wall right into the mural...
     Then we walked up to Dolores Street Cafe, had some lunch and steeped our eyes in some delicious 'dyke eyecandy'.  Afterwards we headed up to the Castro to see if I could find the book that Page Hodel just published called "Monday Hearts for Madeline."
   Page, someone I met many years ago, started making these hearts for a woman she fell in love with that lived across the street from her in 2005 and 2006.  Less than a year after they met, Madelene died of ovarian cancer and this past Valentine's day Page published a book that has gorgeous photos of 100 different hearts she had made for Madelene over the years.  The photography is superb as are the hearts, made from an amazing variety of mostly everyday things, including food, plants, flowers, paint brushes and metal shavings.   I don't have permission to post any of these pictures but the book is available at Book Inc. on Market street next to Peet's.  She had an opening on May 26th for her show at Dolores St. Cafe.  The show featured several hearts from the book enlarged.   I haven't tried it but you may be able to get the book on Amazon. 
     At some point during my visit, Teresa and I, who have never met before except on Facebook, realized we both knew a woman named Mary Wings.  I hadn't seen Mary in 12 years so Teresa picked up Joan and I and we went for a visit to see the lovely Mary in her Boho style house in Precita park.    Here she is standing in front of her house...
         Doesn't look like much until you get inside and see how she has made a basement into a cool little place to live..
     Below is a picture of her wildly wonderful garden of which she insists still grows bulbs from my garden in Potrero Hill....
    Then I took a picture of a brown paper bag, graffiti-ed and encased behind glass of which Mary claims to have pilfered from a telephone pole in Paris.   Mary and I agreed this wasn't just some scrawled graffiti on a brown paper sack, this person knew what they were doing...
     One last picture.  This is Teresa chilling out in Mary's garden...
  Tomorrow I am going to try to drive from San Fransisco to Eugene.  After this many days on the road I am tired but I don't really want to go home quite yet.  So we will see what happens...  Again, I thank you for reading and comments are always welcomed..   yona c. riel


day eleven... devil's slide and p-town w/pam...

     My old friend Pam was in town for the International Ms Leather contest, held in San Fransisco at the Holiday Inn.  I picked her up in my truck and after saying hi to a few people that I remembered from way back and we headed down HWY 1, our old haunt.  First stop was a really awesome ruin...
     We played around on the ruin taking ridiculous pictures of each other...  I am sure you'll remember this pose of mine from a Tiger's birthday party at Pizza Research Institute...
    It has taken 2 and a half years for my fingers to be able to flip the bird with both hands... (that's why at least in part I am smiling).
    Here's a shot of looking down the cliff onto Devil's Slide beach.  It gives you an idea where we are...
 
     There was some beautiful graffiti inside the ruin so once I got up there I took a picture..
     By the time we left several other 'tourists' had stopped to climb on the ruin.  It had a 'no trespassing' sign but when I am with Pam I do silly things.  Just saying. 
     The traffic was amazingly slow as we drove south down to P-town and Half Moon Bay.  After all it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and everybody with their mothers, brothers, BFFs and surfing buddies were at the beach enjoying it.  We got down to P-Town, another old haunt, and gaggled our disappointment to each other about how much it had changed.  Still we found some interesting photo opportunities.  It was high tide so the beach we used to go to was not there, at least for the next 12 hours or so.
        But looking out into the marina there were a few abandoned boats making for an unusual shot...

   Also parked nearby there was a cool old truck affording yet another chance for fooling around and taking pictures...
     We drove back up to Day's Inn in Half Moon Bay, (which was 30 dollars cheaper than the Comfort Inn next door) and had salmon on parmesan crackers, smoking loon chardonney, and a whole night to catch up on stories.
   

Day ten - Santa Maria to Colma via highway one...

     The hotel I stayed in last night was the loudest most obnoxious place ever!   It was in Santa Maria at "America's Best Value"... NOT!  If they changed it to America's Worst Value I might believe them but I will never stay there again.  (Sorry I needed to get that off my chest.)
     After going to the Starbucks to update my blog I got on highway 101 North.  It was one huge vineyard, sometimes even on both sides of the freeway.  Occasionally there would be a horse ranch or maybe even a cow farm for a mile, maybe two, but it quickly returned to tidy little rows of grapes, all tied like Jesus to little wire crosses.   At Pismo Beach I did make it back to the ocean where three dogs were tearing it up.  Ah the life of a dog....
     I walked further up the beach and found an interesting rock outcropping...
     Then I got into the truck and continued north where I saw the Mission San Miguel and the Veritable Vegetable truck.  (I used to driver that semi years ago so it was a nostalgic moment for me.)  The Mission was made of what looked like handmade adobe bricks and was established in 1797.
    The building reminded me of Oaxaca with all the peeling layers and textures and the huge clay bricks...
    Across the street there was an old adobe that had been turned into a museum and was supposed to be open..



 
     Around this supposed to be open museum was a garden of huge and blooming cacti and succulents...
    Here's another picture I took in the garden before taking off...
     I think California must be really broke because not one rest area was open.  And the hours posted on this building Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were obviously invalid it being Friday and closed.  So I wandered back up to the freeway and resorted to a little drive-by shooting (aka guerilla tourism) when I saw this truck...
     Yes I am multitasking again.... (that's a good thing right?)...taking pictures while I driving..... (I know it's dangerous and please don't tell my therapist).  The only other curious site I had was that of the oil wells drilling like slow moving dinosaurs.  I've got to wonder about those miles of vineyards and how that oil is not leeching into the soil...
    I made it to my friends Jennifer and Bertina's house by 5pm.  Perfect timing for some dinner (vegetarian curry made special by Bertina) and a beer.  Then we headed out to see "Kick Ass", an R rated movie about an 8 yr old girl who is also a superhero.  It's rated R for the violence and the swearing.  Even for me (who claims the "F" word as my middle name) it was disconcerting to hear an 8 yr old say the "C" word and then blow a gangster away with a Tommy Machine Gun but I guess that is what happens in the comic book on which the movie was based.  This happens early in the movie, capitalizing on some serious shock value.  Still, I want to be Hit Girl for Halloween.
    Today I am going to head into San Fransisco and pick up my old friend Pam who is attending the International Ms Leather Competition.  We are going to head south via Highway One and stay in a hotel in Half Moon Bay or Princeton for the night.  Yona c. Riel

Day 9 - Upland CA to Santa Maria, via the coast highway and Ojai

     There is one cool coffee shop in the town where my mother lives.  It's called Boomers and has great 50s decor and run by some local babyboomers I think I should have been in High School with but wasn't...
     That's where I started my day.  I did not want to go anywhere near Los Angeles so I took highway 214 through Pasadena then I was able to pick up the Ventura Freeway which brought me to highway 101 around Santa Barbara.  I wanted to check out the little town of Ojai so I drove the 30 miles inland and got out of the truck for a little walk.  Spendy little town with a Nigerian necklace of silver selling for 165 dollars.  (Absurd.  Fortunately I was just looking.)  There was also this really cool chair made from beads...beautiful to look at and photograph but I didn't even bother to ask the price.
    I walked up the sidewalk and a young man who said he was a journalism student took my picture then wanted to get my name.  I told him about the road trip and that I was from Eugene.  His face lit up as he pointed to himself saying "11th and Polk."  I responded "17th and Polk".   It was a high five moment on 'High Five Day' (according to my friend JJ). 
    On the way in to Ojai I noticed two things (other than the traffic)  There was a place called the "Blue Iguana Inn" and another called the Psychic Boutique.  There's an older movie starring Daryl Hanna as a stripper called 'Night at the Blue Iguana' and I wondered if it was filmed there.  Sandra Oh was also in that movie but more about her later.  Here's the picture....
    Way to spendy for me, I could tell just looking at it.  But across the street hidden in the bushes was a small house had obviously been there before all the rich people and the vineyards came in 20 years ago....
      This is "California" for shack.  I bet it cost more than 500 grand too. 
     I left Ojai for the Pacific Ocean dreaming of a walk in the water.  The road was curvy, mountainous; a nice place for a Sunday drive.  About 30 minutes later I was headed north on 101 the ocean waves rhythmically curling into white foaming tops then flattening as they broke on the shore.  Surfers and bikinis laid about the beach.  I spent 6 yrs in southern California during high school and the only thing I miss is walking in warm ocean water.  Years ago we used to go camping at El Capitan Beach on a whim.  (My father was the impulsive type).  Now my friend Colleen, who lives in Solvang, informs me that you need reservations 9 months in advance.  It also costs 10 dollars just to take a walk on the beach.  Thankfully I asked if they gave discounts to disabled veterans and I got in for free.
    I was so happy to be on the beach walking in the water that I took about a hundred photos.  I will just post the ones I really like...

    And then I took a little self portrait in the water just for kicks...
    The water was cold but the salty smell of the ocean and the song of the waves moved through my spirit like the teenager I once was.
     Gaud I miss the ocean...
    I spent a few hours combing the beach for shells and rocks then I got back in the truck and continued north through the one long continuous vineyard from Buelleton to Santa Maria.  By this time it was 8pm and I needed to stop for the night.  I figured Santa Maria would be cheaper than the other options but I didn't realize it would also be loud and obnoxious.  At about 11pm I went to the front desk and complained about the noise.  The woman, thankfully, put me in another room.  I watched Bill Maher hoping television would put me to sleep.  It worked, but 8 o'clock this morning the family next door hollered me awake.  So I am starting the day off grumpy.
    Tonight I am headed to my old friends' Jennifer and Bertina's house in Colma just south of San Fransisco.  I haven't seen them since the film festival last year.  It will be nice to catch up...  yona c. riel

Day Eight - Joshua Tree and the road to Victorville...

     First let me say thank you for following my road trip virtually.  It really makes a difference when I stay connected to the people in my life that I know and love.  That said, I am going get all floral on you today.  Joshua Tree had an amazing number of plants in bloom, which is what I had hoped for when I scheduled this trip.  There were so many deserted shacks on the way into town I couldn't possibly shoot them all so I decided against shooting any of them.  I started to wonder what happened, did they run out of water, go broke, what?  It was very depressing to see which is another reason I didn't take pictures of the shacks.
     Instead I focused on rock formations and blooming plants, a beautiful pursuit in the desert in the middle of April.

    Everywhere I looked there was amazing beauty.. especially if you like the contrast of the living among the seemingly dead.
    When I see cactus growing out of rocks I am amazed by the determination of the plant's will to live.
     It's a little hard to see (because photography flattens everything into two dimensions) but I am standing on huge rocks looking down upon Hidden Valley.  
      The next mini walk was to an old gold mine called the Queen Mill Mine.  Apparently a lot of gold came out of this place at one time.  All that remains are the filled in mine shafts, the remnants of a stone building and some old equipment.  Why someone drug that old bed frame in there who knows, but it made for a fun picture...
      Something about lives once lived....  legacies.... the thought of which strikes me with a mixture of awe and fear.  Are all artists like this?  After all it's legacies, our history and the works of art we did in our lifetimes that will remain after we are gone. 

     The rock formations were another spectacular aspect of Joshua Tree.  The unusual one below brings to mind a Tom Waits song, "Whats He Doing in There?" mostly because the cave in the center of it looks large enough to live in....
         The next one captured my interest because of it's size.  Enormous rock formations remind me of lives that are much older and wiser than my own.  (Yes, I believe that rocks witness the life that happens around them and that those memories are stored in the textures and shapes of the rocks themselves.  I am an old Rockhound after all).  Again I am awed and made to feel small (in a good way)...
     I left Joshua Tree around 2 pm and decided I wanted to get to Victorville, California.  Leaving Joshua Tree I found 'Old Woman Springs Road' (highway 274) which went straight to Victorville.  And on it I found the most beautiful old shack of the trip (so far).

      I could tell it was really old not just because of the 'patina' on the wood but because the one inch cedar boards were actually one inch thick.  These days one inch cedar is really 3/4 of an inch or less. Of course I had to take a shot from inside.  You can just barely make out the fields of yellow flowers that covered the valley. 
 
    When I was 15, having gotten inspired by my 500 mile Arizona ride, I headed out alone on my bike along the back roads towards Victorville.  I had a girlfriend at the time that lived there and I was determined to get there.  I remember it was pretty hot outside.  I had no water, no helmet and no food.  Between where I started in Upland and Victorville there was El Cahon Pass with an elevation of 4000 feet and about 50 miles.  I did finally make it but I called my mom that night and told her I wouldn't be coming home.  I hadn't been to Victorville since I was very young and since this whole trip was revisiting my past I had to include it. 
     I went through Victorville without even stopping because en route I decided I was close enough to my mom's house for a quick visit.  She, being 85 and a woman of few visitors was happy to see me.  (I hadn't seen her since my head exploding incident in December of 2007).  We went out to dinner and hung out for awhile but she is very hard of hearing which made conversation difficult.  Also my oldest brother (whose 56 and who I do not get along with) still lives with my mother.  This morning before I left she asked me if I wanted the old dresser that I had as a child so her and I struggled it out of the house and into the back of my truck.  I hugged her 3 times (she's not the touchy-feely type) and then I came to Boomers cafe to update the blog.   It's the only interesting cafe in all of Upland.  Besides it's beautiful 50's decor it also has wifi...
 
   Today I am going to take the back roads and try to get to Ojai.  As always your comments are welcomed and encouraged...