San Francisco was a delight. I was staying inside Presidio Park- Lara’s apt.-, walking distance to many great spots -so many that I just didn’t have the time to explore all of them. I walked over to great friends of Yols and A that I have also gotten to be friends with. They live where there are so many beautiful old houses that you see in pics of the city. After a beautiful and delicious home-cooked meal, Lara (who had joined us a bit later) and I took a driverless Uber home to her place. Buckled into the backseat with no one in the front driving was a bit of a surreal experience. One day, I did a little walking venture and went to the tunnel tops – a spot with beautiful gardens that also gives great views of the bridge (when Karl the fog is not around), views of Alcatraz and you could see my next destination – The Palace of Fine Arts. It was all beautiful. Later in the evening, Lara took me to Golden Gate Park to see their Dahlia gardens among the other beautiful fauna. A short but great stay in SF.
Lara kept the items packed up for future use for when her parents were to come for visits and I took the now emptier car and headed east. My thoughts were to keep checking out National Parks as they presented along the way with the first stop being Yosemite. Their site relayed the information that no campsites were available, but I’ve been to too many parks where nothing is shown, but with last minute cancellations, or sites held and released, there is usually something that can be had. I was wrong. There were several campgrounds already closed and the ones that were open, were full and the sites were “ass to elbow” close in proximity to one another. I did get to see most of the major features and views as I was able to easily drive all around the park despite the lack of campsites. It was gorgeous from all of the avenues leading into and out of the park.
Having no cell service inside the park, I was unsure where I might be staying for the night. I decided not to lollygag too much inside the haven of granite, which is the park, to give myself some time and daylight and see if I could find a safe spot to park on the outskirts. I emerged on the east side of the park on 102 and into cell service and a plethora of messages. Stopping for a few minutes to digest the new messages, I decided I should forgo further park-hopping and just make my way home. It was made clear that I was being missed and I should head back. I had about a 1/3 tank of gas and the price at the town on the east exit was over $7.50 per gallon, so I declined to head that direction and instead jogged down the highway to where 102 took off east once more as a three-season road not open in winter months. There was a tiny town of Benton on the other end of the road which Google said had a gas station, so I decided on that route. As I got onto the new section of 102 I became aware of why it was not open in the winter. There was no one along this road for them to need to plow it in winter. I saw not one power pole, housing, or even barn structure along the miles and miles of road. Again away from any cell service, I said a little prayer that nothing should break down or happen while on this stretch as I wasn’t sure when anyone would find me. I made it to Benton only to find out that the gas station was closed. I don’t know if they only have daylight hours or what, but closed they were. The map showed a dot on the map of an even smaller town up the road and then about 80 miles away was a bigger town of Tonopah. At this juncture, I decided that it might make good sense to let someone know where I was in case something unexpected happened. The mileage gauge said that I should make it to Tonopah if worse came to worse and I had to trust that it was correct. I called and left messages with both sons before I again lost cellular service. The dot representing Coaldale on the map turned out to be an intersection with an abandoned building and nothing more. In one section of the road with service, I googled where the next rest area was. There was one called Millers rest area just ten miles or so before Tonopah that also allowed camping for the night, so I headed to that. I don’t mind sleeping at a rest area as they are generally full of truckers and I feel that most are good people and will watch over me if needed. I was none too happy driving into Millers rest area to find a sign saying no truckers allowed. A chain link fence surrounded the area of the dilapidated but working restrooms. Galen called just then and I asked him to google the next two rest areas that I would encounter should I decide to bypass this one for being on the sketchy side of my low standards. He looked them up and said that they were worse than the one I was at as they were just pull-offs in a field without even a bathroom. Being the only car in the place, I moved away from the bathroom building and under a security light toward the entrance. I figured anyone coming in would have to pass me and I would be left to be by myself and could keep an eye on any activity around the bathrooms if there was any. I slept somewhat fitfully for the first few hours waking up each time someone drove in. This only happened twice in that timeframe and each time, the folks stayed in their vehicle for a few minutes before getting out. In my mind, they were sizing up the safety of the place just as I had done. I had bear spray in the car and kept the keys with the alarm button at ready should I need it, but the place was kind of creeping me out. I decided that maybe I should just check to see about a hotel instead of car camping where I was weirding out a bit. A quick search brought up the Clown Motel – billed as the scariest Motel in the USA. It was adjacent to an old cemetery. I like cemeteries, but the idea of the clown motel creepiness was enough to convince me that I was just fine where I was. I then fell back asleep and slept soundly until around 5 am when a white van pulled into a spot a bit too close for my comfort and I was certain it was time to get to town, get gas, and be on my way once more.
The big lesson for travelling between California and Colorado for me was that you should always get gas when you see a station as there is more uninhabited space in this section of the U.S. than you realize.
I made it through Nevada and Utah and home to Colorado without any other major events but with lovely scenery.
The day after I got home, I broke my pinky toe. Nothing to be done about that, so guess I’d just take it easy for a bit.
I went to an orthopedic Dr to get my knee checked out before ski season since it still hurts from time to time – he was not interested in looking at my toe. The joints on the knees look good, so just need to strengthen the muscles around the knee.
We got our first good snowstorm and it was warm enough the next day for me to meet Mollie at Golden Mills for an outdoor beer to share how our trips back from the Pacific Northwest had gone.
Fun fact. The Golden mill is just recently an up coming food and beer hall. It originally was a mill and feed store and is the first place that I ever purchased chicks for starting my own coop.
And that my friends is finally the end of October.