---Kevin Goes to California

-------July 10, 1999 By Kevin McIntyre
Hi Tim
  I quite literally woke up at 3:20AM thinking I forgot to put you on the cc list last week: better late than never?
  "How's it going eh?"
  No, Doug said I can't say that anymore, although the guy in Circuit City asked where I was from..
  "Aloha!" Close, right country, wrong state although the puddle outside looks familiar. Maybe a different angle....
  "Dude! 'S-up?!" Bingo! When in Rome blend in [not in Rome though]
  Well it was many miles, 2121.25 door step to door step. I haven't figured the mileage but I wasn't driving for that. Considering the winds, mountains and speeds on the interstates I suspect it won't be the 25.8 I got on the last fill. I need to consider the smaller U.S. Gallon too. [update: 20.3, not bad considering driving 75 in high altitudes with headwinds]
  The Peoples Republic of Saskatchewan was so typical, pitch and heave every single mile except for a few west of Saskatoon. The moment we hit Tax Free Alberta it was as if someone drew a line in the asphalt, same roads as we had in the P.R.S. (Poor Rural Saskatchewan) twenty-five years ago, damn it. Turning south on 41 there were some hills, then the big dip same as north of Regina, whose name escapes me at the moment. Climbing out of that burned, some diesel, but there to Medicine Hat, it was 120 all the way, right through radar too. Only one we saw to, I might add. Medicine Hat was the only glitch, Mapquest said to take the 41A loop and considering the city is laid out according to the curve of the river we were lost. Even the locals couldn't point us to the #3 turnoff. Forty-five minutes later we found it, local motels were full so on 3, on the edge of town, in big letters was the Pal Motel: $30 a night, and when Sandra requested a room for the night they seemed shocked [hourly rates?] Rained like all get out.
  The next morning we hit the road early, got rid the the pretend money in Taber and turned due South for the next couple days: crossing into Montana was a non event:
Do you have any fruits vegetables alcohol tobacco?
Cats dogs birds or pets?
Any guns?
Want some?! [welcome to A*M*E*I*C*A*!]
  He asked citizenship and destination and said "Okay."
  I asked if they still had no speed limit and he pointed smiling to the 75 sign behind him. Damn. The first 20 miles were pitted concrete - likely by design to slow the boys down. After that - sheer total bliss. 4 lane divided smooth as a babies bottom. Overpasses every 15 miles and no slow downs for every dikweed town along the way. As I was busy enjoying the freedom denied us by the Czar this Monte Carlo slides by. Clearly someone forgot to inform him of the speed limitation 'cuz he was "GONE!" Literally, in 2 minutes he was a memory. We figured regular flow from 80-85.
  Dinner at Mickey D's in Shelby, load of diesel and southbound again. From Helena on it got, interesting. Mountains, curves then I saw it and as I jammed the brakes said "oh shit!", the sign said Wolf Creek Pass. In an instant my mind went to the 70's and the C.W. McCall song of the same name. 35mph seemed more than adequate and you'd better listen to the song to get my drift. From there we climbed to Butte, A/C off, 45-50 mph [A/C compressor sucks up 5 hp] and watched as the heat gauge stood up and saluted. 1900 rpm was where it was happy: 6'6" tall, two big mirrors, 5500 lbs empty, 6500 loaded, 85 degrees, and 6000 feet elevation. Visions of things to come. That 6.2 is happy as a clam on level ground, it isn't a mountain machine. Interstates through Helena and Butte were yawners, curving left in Butte we saw the War Bonnet Inn on the right. King size bed, good food and a good price.
  Early the next day it was caffeine time for Sandra then southbound again over the continental divide. Still hilly but not mountains, we got to interstate speeds most of the time. Notation: I saw some 5th wheel campers that could only be described as HUGE! Triple axle, stand up over the hitch and to the unit pulled not by Chevies or Dodges but one ton dually Ford Power Strokes. Choose your mountain, it made not one bit of difference to the Power Stroke. 75 all the way. I thought crossing to Idaho would pull the speed to 65, nope. I thought for sure in Utah we'd be slowed down. Nope. [I thought I'd be busted in Utah, transported an unmarried woman across state lines and then that night in the motel..... Seemed they didn't mind!]
  North of Ogden our 4 lane divided went to 6 then 8 then 10 in places, stay in the second from the left and hold the cruise. From there to the west edge of Salt Lake City it was one city. Not a problem. Turn right on I-80 and then there it was on the right: a Days Inn! Strangely, we weren't greeted by "Hello Friend" so we left the 'hurry up Sparky I gotta goat sacrifice to attend to' alone. A block farther down the street just pass the overpass was the Encore Grill, which shared the parking lot with the Holiday Inn Express. *highly* recommended, especially the Baron O' Beef. [I'll pause here to salivate]
  Off by tenish the next day, lunch at Subway on the outskirts of the city the across the Flats. Can we say *Way Cool*? First the lake then endless stretches of pure white salt as far as the eye could see. Must have been one bugger to build that road for it was all fill. 80-85 was the flow and we crossed in an hour or so. [80-85 miles] Saw the Bonneville turnoff then - Nevada. Cross the state line and go vertical, literally. A huge gap carved out the mountain and 3 lanes wide. A/C off and salute the heat gauge 4 mile grades at 5-8%. 900 kms to Reno, didn't make it.
  We timed out in Winnamucka and stayed at the Super 8. Jerry's Restaurant was next door and the motel clerk wasn't enthused at sending us there. The food was good, when they finally got it right, don't look to close at the floor. On TV the Red Lion Inn was advertised at less money and it looked better: slots onboard too! We could see it just down the street but zonked out at the Super 8.
  Elevenish start, good roads nearly to Reno then quite similar to Golden B.C. . 65 through Reno and in no time too then the California State Line..... Crappy concrete, scenic as all get out in Tahoe and what we shall refer to as mountains, real ones. 7500 feet, see above vehicle description, the hell with the heat gauge - gotta be broken.... . Road signs described grades and advised speeds, I kinda liked 40 better than 50 and the cruise held it. Then, this huge yellow sign in BIG black letters:


  Well this flat lander ain't never seen nuthin' like that before! Then about a mile later another similar:


  See above statement. Second time around though I didn't need a second invitation: I cranked up and when we hit the bottom I just ain't all sure how fast we were going, the entire flow of traffic, was going. You see I read to 140, the odometer reset pin is at 160 and it was *pinned*. A/C on. Top of the hill, A/c off, 40 mph. Had a few runs like that :). We could have pushed through, the terrain in all this went from 7500 to 2000. A few more oxygen molecules in were appreciated by the anemic diesel and we were limited to 65. Damn slow. We shut down in Rockglen or Rockville or something.
  Sandra checked messages again, two from the guys delivering the bed wanting to be here Saturday: This WAS Saturday evening! After some REAL sweet talking they agreed to deliver Sunday at 9AM. Apparently they were two guys in a semi loaded with beds roaming the interstates of America making deliveries: next stop, Arkansas... miss them and they'd be back in a month.
  Wake up at 2:30AM and hustle. On the road at 4:40AM and when the sun got going at 5 it was southbound on the 680 doing 80 and 94 foot elevation. Turn right on Berryessa, right at the first corner after the lights and right again into Woodland Meadows [then bear left]. 7:02AM. 9:30 the truckers phone: hung over, be there at 1. Good thing cuz we had a *lot* to do. Move stuff, unload the van, go to Home Depot for plywood for a ramp. When they arrived we were ready; they moved some furniture to the garage and brought the bed in. [Gee, I thought there WAS an office on the main floor to reside in; The stair case likely won't accept a wheelchair lift...].
  Monday we slept, John & Aggie came over and they flipped the bed, removed the castors and placed it with the trapeze. Tuesday we slept again and recalling Monday night when Aggie said her thermometer hit 98 at 5 we headed to Costco. [COSTCO!!!! Twice the size of Saskatoon's or Konas'!!!] Costco had 11,500 BTU units for double hung windows. No good. Circuit City had 10,000 BTU units for sliding windows: delivered at 1:30 today. Being in the direct sun Tuesday with those temps "killed" me. Today is hot to, we stayed in and kept the windows closed. Livable.
  Today we pulled off a door and made a desk and have the computers setup and snugly. The laser printer may go atop the entertainment unit, not sure about my scanner. Got config'd up on Sandra's Earthlink account and switched Eudora over to use my domain account. Checked the newsgroups, 35,000 of them <g>, download speeds are exactly double of sympatico, the system monitor ran from 9000 to 114,000 consistently. [Tomorrow we call for info on cable modems, VBG.
  Scotty accepted me right away [I petted him], Gizmo - well... The first night he lay down on my chest and stuck his ass RIGHT in my face. This morning he was on my legs so maybe he'll let me live.
  Now how are we gonna unpack that air conditioner an' get it in the window.....