The Sunshine Vacation Chronicles

I have been knighted, or princessed, or smacked upside the head with yet another honor. Phil at Thought Sparks, the extraordinary guy who helped save me from ripping out my eyeballs when I switched over to my own domain, has dubbed me “Inspirational,” and that is a very cool honor. It means that Phil is willing to weed through my writer’s moods, confusing musings, and contradictory thought trajectories enough to find glimmers of purpose. It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride from one post to the next, dipping and spinning. Then rolling along smoothly until a sudden drop you didn’t anticipate sends your stomach up into your throat. Like Phil said, Inspirational. Woot! Thanks, Phil. And thanks to Christy at Writer’s Reviews whose ingenuity gave birth to a variety of positive recognitions for those in Bloggsville. I will dub those I believe are inspirational, but plan to do so over a period of time as I get back into the saddle again after being on vacation. I’m evidence that one can actually not blog for more than five days…

And to celebrate my new accolade, I will launch into the first of “The Sunshine Vacation Chronicles.” Actually, they began last night in the wee hours, as I needed to flush my attitude a bit. And having dragged my rear end out of bed somewhere around 10am today to the scent of something….ahhh….smelling not quite right, and the steady roar of the exhaust fan over our stove, I am quite rested, and ready to roll — although I’m glad I missed breakfast. The MoH saved the evidence. Sunday Toast

Now, this is the part where you may want to take a seat in the back row and catch some zzz’s. You know. Like when you’re forced to watch a slide show of someone else’s vacation shots? Like that. Kay? For those of you inclined to stay, gird your loins and prepare for a glimpse of the more easily overlooked, but very best gems on our way to Tahoe.

High Points on the Trip Up.

We didn’t hit the road until 1:30. On a Friday. If that doesn’t sound the alarm, then you might as well give up, lay down and close your eyes. So Cal. Mid Day. The last week of July. Friday. So we’ll donate our brains to science, okay? Because no one in his or her right mind would actually PLAN to do this. But we’re the adventuresome sort. Right. So HP #1 is having ridiculously optimistic attitudes.

Downright giddy, actually.

We covered 70 miles before we had to stop on the parking lot that was supposed to be the I-15 North. We’d been driving 1 hour and 7 minutes. I could probably tell you how many gallons of gas we’d burned, the average speed, and miles per gallon our car was getting, but I’ll spare you. Yes, the MoH knows all of this and will report immediately upon request. You don’t even have to insert a quarter. Font of Information Oh. I forgot. The temperature was also being tracked: it was hovering at about 100 degrees. Swell, huh? Well, my ankles and wrists did, loving excessive heat the way they do. So HP #2 is managing to get out of San Diego county before parking on the freeway in scorching afternoon heat. This traffic jam was sponsored by a minivan that didn’t quite stop when the fast lane traffic must have, so veered off the road and flipped a few hundred times. There were no ambulances, so there must have been a flock of angels hovering in the vicinity. It caused just enough commotion to stop both sides of the freeway with rubberneckers gawking at the wreckage. Eyes not on road + heavy traffic = crash.

HP #3 is creatively busying ourselves with mindless activity and pithy games to keep from paying attention to the less than interesting, scrub-covered landscape that stretches to the horizon. We keep track of license plates. I know. It’s so ’50’s, but it passes the time. Kind of like when I was a kid on road trips, my brother, sister, and I would whack each other when we saw one of those pseudo wood paneled station cars and scream, “BEAVER CAR.” Uh, no, I don’t know why they were called that particular term. Then my dad would launch a low flying whack to the side of one of our heads in retaliation. We’d resort to stealth pinching or poking from that point on until my sister whined about it and we’d get whacked again. A father’s arm reaches pretty far in a VW Beetle. Far. If you try to escape the whack, you bonk your head into the side window, then you get whacked for moving away from the oncoming whack. I guess that means we were double whacked. This is true and today, I think it’s called child abuse. So the MoH, the RT and I count license plates. We aren’t quite June and Ward, but we garnered 20 of the 50 states with Massachusetts being the one from farthest away. Poor saps. They won’t even find Dorothy or Toto in this place.

Old 395 I also take note of strange things like small fenced areas in the middle of nowhere with nothing different inside the fence than what can be seen outside the fence. Areas with hand-painted signs that say, “Stop the FTAA dot org.” Hmmm… What could have been inside that crude fence at one time? And whose land was it? Only cars speeding anxiously toward the next passing lane and a series of enormous power lines were visible for miles. Whose attention could the organizers be wanting here? And why? I had to wonder about this for seven whole days until Google put me out of my misery. But I would have forgotten about it if I hadn’t seen it on the other side of the road on the way back, or been enthralled with our mindless activity. Of course, now I have to wonder about those folks and their campaign.
HP #4 was seeing all those solar collectors out in the high desert while we were racing up and over the ribbon-like road and thinking that someone had a freaking clue. According to Wikipedia,

Boron [near Four Corners] is also the home of the worlds largest solar power production facility. Florida Power and Light operates five thermal trough technology Solar Electric Generating Stations (SEGS) plants. These units generate enough electricity to provide the electrical needs of 30,000 to 40,000 homes without the use of fossil fuels.

Four Corners Collectors There must have been a million of them shining in the searing heat and sending power back to a sort of conversion station at Four Corners (which had the most unbelievably long traffic light and endless number of semis mixed with racing cars waiting to pass through.) Sorry. I missed the photo of the Ferrari. But seeing the collectors just stirs up my attitude about why, why, why there can’t be more. About why it’s so difficult to push those who keep steering us toward the use of non-renewable energy. Four Corners Traffic

Oh, how foolish of me. It’s money — just not ours. Their Money

Well, it was ours, and now it’s theirs. Funny how that works, don’t you think?
HP #5 was staying overnight at Mammoth. We juiced up at Starbucks in Bishop (no, there wasn’t a mom & pop coffee place open…) at about 9PM in the still sweltering heat before ending our day at a condo kindly offered by an acquaintance at the last minute. So no motels in lonely places for us. It made for a restful night, and a seriously cool trip up Mammoth Mountain on the gondolas the next day to gawk at the view and gasp in the thin air. Literally breathtaking up there on that humongous chunk of volcanic rock more than 11,ooo feet in the air.

Mammoth Mountain

HP #6 was thanking our lucky stars that my car managed the dirt road to Bodie, CA, a bonafide ghost town left over from the gold rush. What a stark, but beautiful place. I’m still wondering why that particular area was where Bodie decided to dig for gold at an altitude of 8400 ft., with daytime temperatures peaking in the 80’s and plummeting into the 30’s even at this time of the year. Desolate. A bit creepy even with visitors walking among the decaying buildings on a sunny day. I suppose I should read the guide we bought, huh? I was too busy taking photos.

Bodie Ghost Town

HP #7 is that we actually made it to Lake Tahoe without a map. This was by design since it was one very long road all the way there. How hard could that be? A total of five turns were made. The bummer is that maps often can explain strange things you see on the side of the road. Like odd black rocks that rise up from the earth and gather into a formidable ridge that just ends after reaching a height of hundreds of feet. What the hell were those things, and how old were they? If it was an ancient lava flow, where the hell was the volcano? I somewhat recognized the basalt structure thanks to that geology professor at SDSU, I think. Maybe. And that very odd looking red hill jutting from the earth. Was that a fissure, or something. What was the redness about? Iron? Simply stimulating, don’t you think? Rocks completely fascinate me. Of course, so does Google, because thanks to this intelligent source, I now “get it.” Simply spectacular. Truly. You can tell I’m a nerd, right?

HP #8 is that my VBF was already at the rental in Tahoe when we arrived at 5PM and was getting chicken and sausage kabobs ready for the grill. The wine was cold, and a hammock was waiting between two pines just behind the house.  And in less than another day, my VGF was due to arrive.

Gentle folk….start your engines…Hammock upon Arrival





8 responses to “The Sunshine Vacation Chronicles”

  1. glad to have you back kelly.. the pix are beautiful.. what a nice little setup you guys had over there… it looks really laid back and relaxing… i haven’t been to tahoe yet… but you never know……

  2. Hey Paisley, yes, it was quite the lovely and relaxing place. And we’d never been to visit either. Now we’re trying to think of a way to swap houses with someone there occasionally. It’s gorgeous.

  3. Kelly, forget the high, dry, cool climate of Tahoe and swap houses w/ me in the humid lower lands of the Austin area. I think we could “force” ourselves to watch your abode in paradise 🙂 Actually Austin is a great place to be 8 or 9 months of the year. Welcome back or my condolences. I know I’m still adjusting to life back after my vacation.

  4. Only you could make a road trip that funny (the traffic = hovering angels CRACKED ME UP) and yes, that looks absolutely beautiful. Glad you had such a nice time (once you got there!)

  5. Knowing someone, somewhere, has shouted the words “BEAVER CAR!” amuses me to no end. It’s so much more rich than “punch buggy.”

    Great pictures too, and not just the first one. So… was that a product of overcooking, or…?

  6. Hey Phil…I’m so not a humid person. We’re experiencing a bit ‘o the humidity here, and we all melt. Of course, it’s nothing compared to everywhere else, but we’re seriously weak in the withstanding real weather department. It’s 69 degrees right now, and there’s a lovely light breeze blowing…Do you have AC?????? Bwah-hahahaha!

    Hi meleah! If you’d seen the wreck, you’d agree that there must have been a crew of angels completely used up from saving those ignoramuses. And glad you enjoyed.

    RJ — I’m sure you would’ve fit right in. Oh. Wait. There were already 5 crammed in the VW, so no. And what in hell is a “punch buggy?” The black crusty thing in the blue tray was supposed to be toast. Er..Is?

  7. Punch buggy = beaver car, except one says it on seeing a VW Beetle. Ironic, eh? Plus the 1st person to spot the bug gets to punch his or her (slower) neighbor in the upper arm. Punch, buggy.

  8. Ohhhhhh. Now I get it. And it is a bit ironic. If I’m remembering correctly, we’d sort of whack a backhand against each other’s thigh, or midsection. Oof!

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