Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pictures will be coming ... really

I've started playing around in Google Maps. So far, I've plotted out the route I followed. Next step will be to post selected photos at points on the map. I'll put the link to the map on this blog when it's got some photos to look at. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life goes on

Car tasks done: tires rotated, oil changed, inside/outside professionally cleaned. Water heater fixed. Accumulated STUFF gradually being sorted and put away.

Went back to work on Thursday. I had to read the names on the aisle headers to remember where I sit in the cube farm. Discovered that my colleagues had decorated my cubicle as a "primate habitat" with a monkey-print curtain and straw-like material on the floor and chair. Gummy dinosaurs decorated the desk and car stickers decorated the computer monitor.

Got back to work at the Oregon Zoo yesterday, cleaning up the orangutan exhibit and holding area. Routine is setting in, but I'm trying not to go back to bad habits -- which I don't intend to confess here.

I've actually started sorting and organizing my photos and am looking into posting albums on Google so I can link to them from this blog. Maybe even link them to a Google map. We'll see.

I may be updating this blog occasionally with trip observations I've collected in my head and in writing. Please check back.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Day 62 was a beautiful day of driving up the Oregon Coast. Blue skies with snatches of fog. Scenic views of the ocean. I thought about all the places I'd visited in the past two months. The Grand Canyon. The Petrified Forest National Park. The Badlands. The scenic back roads in different states. Some truly memorable scenery. But for me, when it comes to the can't-pull-myself-away factor, there is nothing like the Oregon Coast. I could sit for hours and just watch the waves crash against the rocks. I don't want to leave until it stops ... but it doesn't stop.

I'd intended to spend some time on the beaches, but by the time I got to some of the places I wanted to sit, the tide was coming in. I did pull off briefly at Bandon and in several places in Yachats, including my favorite spot, Devil's Churn. (That's where I'd like my ashes tossed, although I'm guessing it's probably illegal.)

Stopped for an oyster burger at Mo's in Florence and made a quick bio/shopping stop at the Lincoln City outlet mall. It was 5:30 and just getting dark by the time I headed east toward Beaverton.

I've done the Lincoln City to Portland route in the dark before. The drive through the Van Duzer Forest can be kind of fun. But last night it was a bit of an ordeal. It wasn't the dark that bothered me, it was the light. There was so much traffic coming in the opposite direction, headlights were almost constantly shining in my eyes. I just kept looking at the white line on my right and making sure I paid attention to all the directional signs because I could not see any landmarks. My favorite detour over Chehelam Mountain from Newburg was out of the question.

Got home at just about 8PM. Unloaded car. Still have lots of unpacking to do. Also a couple of loads of laundry, but that may have to wait.

When I got home I remembered to reset my water heater, which I had turned to Vacation setting. This morning when I went out to my car, I noticed that the garage floor was wet, and it must have been quite a bit of water because boxes sitting on the floor were fairly well soaked. Figured it had something to do with restarting the water heater and pressure. Good thing I had not just unloaded the car and left the stuff sitting there.

Went out for breakfast and to the Zoo. When I got home late this afternoon, I found water coming from a pipe that runs up the side of the water heater. It was coming out the top of the heater and pouring down the pipe. The floor was all wet again -- very wet -- and I couldn't figure out how to make it stop. In my panic I turned off a gas valve. After several calls and a call back, I reached someone through the company that did the installation. He assured me that the gas will not be leaking as it shut itself off when I turned the knob. By the time he called, the water had diminished to a trickle. I think I have managed to shut it off so the water heater does fill up again. But now I have no hot water. He said it seems to be an easily fixed malfunction and that he MIGHT be able to get someone to come out tomorrow sometime.

So, the few dollars I might have saved by turning down the water heater will be nothing compared to the service call by the plumber. To put a positive spin on the experience: at least it didn't happen the day I left town.

ABOUT PHOTOS: I will be going through my pictures and figuring out the best way to get a sampling into this blog. Not sure whether I will go back and post selected photos in old posts or maybe make some sort of online annotated album. Stay tuned.

ABOUT THE ZOO: After the Keeper Chat, I stopped by the primate house. Chimp Delilah responded to my sudden reappearance after 2 months by getting up from her nap and coming over to the window as soon as she saw me. Charlie only came out later when fruit was delivered, and I'm no match for bananas and oranges; he barely acknowledged me. Then I stopped by orangutans and was surpised when old Inji immediately came down from her perch up near the holding area. She may have been more interested in the plastic bag I was carrying than in my return, but I was touched that she came over to the window to greet me so quickly.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Day 61 -- Near disaster on next-to-last day

Woke up at 8AM!!! (I don't remember the last time I slept that late.) Left Ukiah (which I finally found out IS pronounced "yu-KAI-ah") and continued north.

It was a pleasant drive through the redwoods and up and down the mountains. Sometimes the sky was clear and blue. Sometimes I was driving through fog. Sometimes I was driving through deep, dark woods. Not a lot of traffic most of the time.

Just after the spot where Route 1 joins US-101, I got a scary reminder that those yellow signs with the silhouettes of leaping wildlife mean something. As I rounded a curve a deer leaped in front of the car. I was able to brake in time and missed it by maybe three feet. If I hadn't been able to stop, I would have hit the buck (antlers and all) full on as he was standing in the middle of my lane. Whew. That makes the heart race. A few miles beyond that incident, on a side road next to 101, I saw two more deer just scampering about the side of the road. They didn't seem concerned that I had stopped and was watching them.

No more adventures, thankfully. Except for lunch in Garberville, no stops. No detours. No sightseeing. By 4PM I was crossing the state line into Oregon. I was debating whether to stop for the night in Brookings or to try to cover more miles -- to leave a shorter drive for tomorrow -- but the lodging options seemed best here. So Brookings is where I will sleep.

Tomorrow I plan to stop and enjoy a few beach walks along the way. Maybe try to find some agates. If I make good time, I can try to locate the area north of Newport where fossils are supposed to be easy to find. High tide is around 6AM and 6PM, so it will be at it's lowest around noon. The weather is supposed to be good. I don't care if I get home after dark.

This is definitely (probably) the final post from the road. Bye.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day 60 -- I changed my mind ... again and again

After studying the map last night, I still wasn't sure what route I would take to get home. The only way I could do it in two days would be to take I-5 all the way, and there was no way I was going to do that. I don't like driving odd-numbered (north-south) interstates, and I really, really want to see the Oregon Coast.

I figured I could take US-101 all the way. Three days of driving, some nice scenery even before Oregon. But getting around San Francisco looked pretty complicated. I'd have to take several different highways before getting back onto 101.

Then I looked at Route 1 out of Monterey. I could take it along the coast and right through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge and then get on 101. That's what I would do. (Pretty much the same route I took 7 years ago.)

With that decided, I started looking longingly at Route 1 all the way up the coast after San Francisco. Google Maps doesn't make it easy to figure the mileage on Route 1. Can't always find it. So I hadn't computed the mileage and travel time going that way and wasn't sure how much it would add to the trip. I began to negotiate with myself: If I get to the other side of SF by around noon, I'll take Route 1. A little before noon, when I was stopping for lunch south of SF: If I get across the Golden Gate Bridge by 1 and the fog has cleared, I'll take Route 1.

Lunch took longer than planned. By the time I was driving through SF it was almost 2PM. Then I thought about the trip 7 years ago. I had driven through SF and across the bridge during rush hour. The highway (101) was packed with cars all the way to Santa Rosa. Driving earlier in the day was smoother. Then I remembered something else: I had stopped for the night in Santa Rosa, and it took me the whole next day to get from there to Garberville by taking Route 1 -- and I didn't stop much along the way. OK. The super scenic route was out of the question.

But it wasn't a bad day of driving. I made an unplanned final tour of the Monterey Penninsula when I couldn't find Route 1 North and ended up going the wrong way. Except for the stretch around Santa Rosa, the traffic wasn't terrible. I did get a few peeks at the ocean through the fog, and the "wine country" landscape north of Santa Rosa is pretty. I'm spending the night in Ukiah. Tomorrow I will go through a redwood forest and back out to the coast. Then Saturday it will be Oregon Coast most of the way.

Gawd, I love the ocean. I don't know which I love more, chimpanzees or the ocean.

Maybe THIS will be my last post from the road. Maybe not. After tomorrow night I get to sleep in my own bed!!!