Back Behind the Redwood Curtain (July 30 2016)

After a furious Fruit Season at the ranch, we are heading back up the coast to Arcata. We don’t know where we will spend the night but it’s unlikely we will get all the way up there today.

A wildfire’s been blazing near Big Sur and we start to smell smoke as we approach the Salinas Valley. It thickens near King City and by Gilroy it is dense (and fighting with Big Time Garlic Smells – is the Garlic Festival going on right now?) and remains until we get through San Jose. We’re on Highway 280 now.

I always look forward to the statue of Padre Junipero Serra pointing the way, next to the highway near Palo Alto. It’s a terrible rendition and looks as much like Yoda as it does Father Serra.

“Did we pass Yoda yet?”

“No, I think it’s coming up.”

“Was it before or after Yoda House?” That’s the name I’ve given to the strange bubbly stucco house with rounded roofs and organic form. It’s actually more popularly known as the “Flintstone House.”

Yoda House comes first, a beacon of bright orange on the hill. And then, Father Junipero Yoda appears, in his dune-colored glory, his index finger pointing accusingly.

We make “pull my finger” jokes about it each time we pass by. Immature us, we never tire of it.

We should have known better than to be traveling on a weekend because as we enter San Francisco, we find ourselves in the worse congestion ever.

“My god, it’s taking us 2 hours to get from the south end of San Francisco to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge!”

“And look at all those people on the bridge!”

It wasn’t even a very nice day.

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Photo from a better (and less congested) day. Suicide Prevention Hotlines abound here.

“Did it just take us an hour to cross the bay?”

The heatwave has not abated and gets hotter and hotter as we go up into Mendocino. Hopland is so sizzling, we just have to stop for a beer.

“Let’s get dinner at Taqueria Maria in Willits!”

Taqueria Maria is a simple Mexican diner with terrific food, as well as groceries and sundries. We found this place last year and it has become our favorite spot for chow. The tacos were as tasty as ever and the tostada with ceviche was still huge and yummmm.

Hunger sated, we power on, cruising through Standish Hickey to see if there are any campsites open (no) and keep going …all the way to Garberville. It’s getting dark.

“I don’t want to drive in the dark,” says Big Dog. “Not through the best part of 101.”

Just outside of town is a quarry. It’s gated and locked and probably won’t be open until Monday so we just park in front of their gate for the night.

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Author: ontheroadwithsprockets

I've been traveling since I was born -- the first big trip was before I was two, across the Pacific, from my native Japan to Los Angeles on a cargo ship. There have been many journeys since then, through many continents and cultures.

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