It was smokin' hot at the NHRA Winternationals Drag Races in Pomona! Definitely the hottest we've encountered - close to 90 (30 C) each day. We drank so much water you'd think we'd float away! We had bought Top Eliminator Club tickets again and this time we sat in section AA, Row 2. These were the best seats we've ever had in the past 9 years. We had a straight look right from the start to the finish. Ice and water or lemonade are provided each day. On Saturday and Sunday there is a Continental Breakfast and always coffee and tea. Also on Saturday and Sunday we had a buffet lunch - nice salads and some hot things as well. We also connected with Monica on Saturday - we had sat beside them in the handicapped section in the Spring. Her boyfriend Kevin is currently in hospital again. It's amazing how he continues.
We stayed at the Fairfield Inn in Ontario for three nights. It was very nice. The car was right outside the door. We had an included breakfast each morning. We left by 9 on Monday morning and arrived in San Luis Obispo in the afternoon. We drove up Hwy 1 along the ocean. It was sunny and hot again. We stopped at Lompoc for fish and chips at Alfie's for lunch. They were pretty good and included a couple of hush puppies each. We stayed at the Best Western Plus, also with breakfast. Our room overlooked the pool and hot tub. The pool was a little chilly but the hot tub was nice. They also had a bit of a happy hour - one free beer or wine each plus crackers, salami, cheese, Chex snacks, nacho chips and salsa. That ended up being dinner because we'd stopped for fish and chips for lunch.
Tuesday dawned sunny and hot again. We had breakfast at the hotel and filled up our coffee mugs. We continued up Hwy 101 to Freedom, just north of Watsonville. We had arranged to meet Cynthia and Mike for lunch. We had been here for dinner with them before and the food is excellent. Large portions of fresh ingredients - all from the family farm. We had a great 2 hour visit with them. We always have a good time when we're with them. We then headed out up Hwy 1 to San Francisco. They've now finished the huge tunnels at Pacifica. Well done! We stayed at the Best Western Plus Tuscan. Larry got a travel agent rate of $169 which was about half price. However on arrival we were given a choice of valet for $55, parking next door for $36 or parking on the street (probably free because of the handicapped pass, but not sure, and not secure either). We chose the valet, took our luggage and scooter up to the room. When it was time for dinner we took the scooter two blocks down to Fisherman's Wharf and had dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. The room was lovely and definitely higher end but no free breakfast, no free bottles of water and no fridge - it was a locked mini-bar! We did have a bit of a view of the courtyard. The staff were very nice. The bellman brought up the luggage cart when we were ready and had the car waiting too.
We got away just after 8:00 on Wednesday morning. We went over the Golden Gate Bridge - the weather had now turned cloudy - typical San Francisco weather and hooked up with Hwy 1. We hadn't been on this part before - as the rest very winding but good quality road. We stopped at Stinson Beach for breakfast - quite expensive so we just had a bagel/toast. The weather was cloudy and much cooler but no rain yet. We continued on up the road catching up with where we had started four years ago "the Hairy Highway" with the coach - Bodega Bay. It's not nearly as intimidating in a car. The clouds were fairly low so we couldn't really see much. We stopped at Pirate's Cove in Point Arena for lunch, thinking it would have some seafood. It turned out to be a mostly Mexican restaurant - the food was pretty good but they should change the name. We arrived in Fort Bragg just after 2:00. We checked in to the Best Western Vista Manor Hotel - we have a great view - then went for a drive - Glass Beach (here we were stopped by a man who introduced himself as Jason Johnson, shook Larry's hand and thanked him for all he did to ensure we are all free and safe - basically thanking him for his service - this happens a lot. People think Larry's handicap comes from military service.) and around town, also to fill up the tank. By this time the pouring rain had started. We went in the pool - indoor, heated and very nice.
We went to Off The Hook Sushi for dinner. It was quite good - Larry had Teriyaki Chicken (there was a lot of it) and Maureen had Chicken Saute (lots of good veggies). The man who was waiting on our table is the owner. He was very funny. He was born and grew up in Guam and the norm for kids there is to plan as soon as possible to get out - go to college on the Mainland. He claims he wasn't smart enough for college so travelled around the US a bit. He met his wife in Fort Bragg and there he stayed. They have owned the restaurant for 10 years. She is a bit of a task master - no phones or TV for staff in the restaurant. He was upset because he always misses football season - now she wants to open Sundays which will really mess him up! He also does not like sushi...
We went to bed innocently enough, with the window open for lovely fresh air. Just after 1 am there were the first bangs of thunder. Then a while after that torrential rain, then hail - Larry had to get up to shut the window facing the ocean directly. Then opened the bathroom window which was under cover. Just after 4 there was a huge flash of light and a bang - we thought it was thunder and lightning again but then the power went out. Transformer blown! It appeared to be only our building - all around had power still. It was still out when we got up at 8 and found there was hot water for showers. We went to Denny's for breakfast. There we met a man named Dave from Colorado. He was very chatty. He's travelling around with his SUV and a small trailer and his dog. He's having trouble finding campsites that aren't too expensive.
We headed north again after that. The most challenging part of the road is next. The last 22 miles through the forest, up, around, down, around seems to take forever. After you reach Hwy 101, you go through several areas where there are redwood trees. We drove to the Drive Thru Tree but it was a little narrow to actually go through. We took part of the Avenue of the Giants which featured many of the largest trees. It was certainly nicer driving this highway in the car! We were able to stop a few times along the way for pictures. We came across a couple of slide areas from heavy rains. We arrived in Crescent City just after 2:00 to the Best Western Northwoods Inn. It was very windy and the surf was very high. It had also rained a lot during our drive. Maureen went for a short walk. We walked next door for dinner to Good Harvest.
It was simply pouring when we got up in the morning on Friday. We packed up and got soaked loading the car. We walked over to the breakfast and got soaked again. It had lessened a bit when we were done. We only went a short drive down the road when the heavens opened up again - this time with hail. It was hard to see where we were going. Then it cleared up and was fine for a ways. We stopped at Reedsport at the Bedrock Chowder House for lunch. It was empty but the chowder was excellent. Just before we left there was a big bang - the staff weren't sure what had happened - we went outside just as there was a flash of lightning. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, the hail started again. The sides of the road were white! When we got to Newport to the Best Western Agate Beach the rain had stopped. We had a lovely room overlooking the ocean. There was actually a sunset! We went to the Sports Bar for dinner.
Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive. We drove up 101 all the way to Aberdeen and crossed to I-5 from there. When we were at about Exit 114 we came up to the traffic that was either stopped or moving slowly. Apparently there had been a police chase and shooting at Exit 122 three hours before. Apparently some guy had shot and killed his girlfriend in Lakewood and then headed up I-5 and got into a shoot out with the police and he was killed in the shoot out. We got off at Exit 116 because we only had a 1/4 tank of gas left and our GPS took us around the back of Tacoma through Steilacoom. We stopped for fuel and rejoined I-5. We stayed at the Best Western Airport Executel near SeaTac. We ended up with a newly renovated King Suite. It was in a bit of an awkward location but it was nice. The restaurant was undergoing renovations so they only had room service available at no extra charge. Maureen ordered a mushroom burger with onion rings and Larry ordered chicken strips with fries, then a Caesar salad to share. Everything was huge! The chicken strips were not really strips but whole breasts (3 of them). Unfortunately we had leftovers that went to waste.
We were up at seven on Sunday morning and away just before 8 after having the buffet breakfast. We arrived at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal at 10:40 - a very smooth trip and no wait at the border. Of course we had to wait for 2 hours for the next ferry! We were home before 2:00. (end mileage 37720 km - 12,170 km for this trip - 7,526 miles?!)
Now the fun begins...