Tales From the Road – “Miles to Go Before I Sleep”

Hello
from the land where white stuff falls from the sky…waaaaa!

We have
returned to Nelson where, according to the Ripster and Mountain Momma, “the sun has been shining and the snow is
melting
”. Ha! We are learning not to trust these charlatans. The night
before we arrived, 8 inches fell. Yesterday it snowed most of the day. I’m
looking out the window right now and, unless the sun has changed from orange to
grey, it is cloudy. “Oh, it hardly ever
snows in town and when it does it melts really quick
”, suuuuuurrre, that’s
why we had to shovel our drive way for half an hour when we got home! You
Rippels better look out your window because I see a pair of pants on fire
hanging from the telephone wire!! (Kidding, we’re glad to be home and see you
guys again…even if you are pathological liars).

Has it
really been two weeks since my last post? My excuse, (this time) aside from
packing and being on the road, is that I put on so much weight from all the
dinner parties and Bobbi’s baked goods that my fingers were too chubby to type!
But seriously, leaving Posada is always a whirlwind of last minute goodbye
parties and rushing to fit in one or two more cool adventures before we go.
There was the tennis tournament, the poker tournament, day trips to a new beach
by Punta Chivato, Prez & All-In-Jim’s exploration of a new slot canyon, my
lunch wit de ladeez, Valentines at the Flying Powers (steaks from Montana which
were roughly the size of…Montana), star watching on the beach of Santispac,
adios dinner at Miss Sue & All-In Jim’s (3 pies for dessert, I’m not
kidding), and bugging Gary about his Lefsa* (that can be time consuming). Did I
miss anything or anyone? Whew, I’m wiped!

We
pulled our little red truck out of Posada at dark o’clock on the 17th
with plans to drive straight through to Carlsbad, California and bunk in a
comfy hotel room.

Just for
the record, there is nothing Fate finds funnier than people who make plans.

Our
drive was uneventful – which is saying a lot when one tackles 600 miles of Hwy
Mex 1. We stopped in Catavina. We have always wanted to stop in Catavina but
the wind is always blowing 7 billion miles an hour there (see the Chronicle of
Jan. 21). This time the wind was light (because we were in a hurry, naturally)
and we were able to get out and hike around a little bit. Picture Bedrock City
and you’ll have a good idea of what Catavina looks like. You swear Fred Flintstone
and Barney Rubble are going to come strolling out from behind a rock at any
moment. Everything was going along just peachy; we even had a good chuckle at
one of the military checkpoints where three Japanese men climbed out of their
vehicle…wearing hip waders? And Prez sold a soldier one of our Maglite
flashlights. It wouldn’t be until Tijuana when our luck started to turn.

Note: Saturday evening on a long
weekend is a very, very, very bad time to try to cross the Tijuana border.

The
Tijuana border is more of a sporting event than a border crossing. First, you
actually have to find the border. This may sound simple but thanks to bad (non-existent?)
signage and heavy traffic, it may be easier to find the lost city of Atlantis
than it is to find the correct street to take you to the border. Our first year
driving home, Prez and I found ourselves in a torrential downpour and as we
neared the border one of the roads was washed out. A detour sign pointed us to
the left and we followed. Unfortunately, in Baja you don’t get a path of nice
detour signs herding you along to your destination – you get one, after that
you’re on your own. There is nothing comforting about wandering lost through
the back streets of Tijuana, in the dark, in a huge truck & camper, in a
rain storm…nothing.

You
can’t miss the border once you actually get there, though. Long before you see
the customs booths you are accosted by children begging for money with
Styrofoam cups, women (always with a baby) doing the same, men trying to hawk
ceramic Tweety Birds, ukuleles, blankets, four-foot high Jesus’s on the cross;
there are churro vendors, candy vendors, and some guys selling “corn in a cup”
(?); men and women dressed in white uniforms (looking very much like they’ve
misplaced their marching band) soliciting donations for an unknown charity, and
there is, of course, the ever-present cry of “chicle! chicle!” from the young boys selling gum.

Note: Do not, under any
circumstances, make eye contact with any of the vendors or, trust me, you will be driving home with a four-foot
high Jesus on the cross – resistance is futile.

Extra Note: If you feel sorry for the
little gum selling boys, go ahead, buy some but don’t actually try to chew the gum. This chicle has a flavour
half-life of 1.2 nanoseconds.

So we
made it through the mind-numbingly long line-up at the border, (I should
mention here that we still did not know it was a long weekend), and crossed
into the six-lane mega cluster of California. Soon we’d be chowing down on an
Islands Asian chicken salad and watching an over-priced movie in a king bed.
Yippee!

Or not.

Note: Trying to find a hotel room in
Southern California, at ten o’clock, on a Saturday, on a long weekend, on the
weekend following Valentines Day, without a reservation, after driving for 13
hours, is a really, really, really stupid idea.

Prez and
I have the worst Spontaneous Hotel Karma, I swear. Without fail, every time we
make some big trip without hotel reservations (which is, um, almost always) we
manage to time our visit with a holiday or an event. There was the big “Shoe
Convention” in Redding, California where we drove around for an hour-and-a-half
to find a vacancy only to discover all the restaurants were now closed – gas
station burritos and malt liquor was a new low for us. Florida: Memorial Day
weekend, driving a Uhaul and towing a 25ft boat – the lady at the campground
entrance didn’t even speak; she just shook her head and pointed us out of the
park. Booking a last minute flight to Vegas is incredibly romantic and
adventurous…except when you arrive and realize it’s Super Bowl weekend, the
town is jammed, and the $80 a night hotel room is now a $250 a night hotel
room. DOH!

After
driving around the Carlsbad area for an hour, and finally being informed there
was not a room to be had from San Diego to San Francisco, we vowed to always
carry a calendar with US holidays listed on it from now on. I’m sure I fell
asleep, at the rest area, murmuring, “carry
a calendar, carry a calendar, carry a calendar…

Surely,
we would have better luck in Reno? I mean a city that size, c’mon! This time we
called ahead to book our room and, hooray, success, yippee!! I was bagged
beyond belief as we pulled into the “Biggest Little Money-Sucking City on
Earth!” All I wanted was a shower and a bed – not necessarily in that order.
Prez parked the truck as I went into the El Dorado to check in. Boy, there were
a lot of Chinese people milling around. Confidently I strode up to the counter,
confirmation number in hand, and was greeted by a friendly receptionist who
said…

Note: Just because you “reserve” a
room doesn’t mean that there will actually, physically “be” a room for you.
Hotels, like airplanes, often overbook and if you are ignorant enough to arrive
on a long weekend, the weekend following Valentines Day, the weekend of Chinese
New Year
for godsake, then you may be out of “ruck” Joe!!

…“I’m sorry but there are no rooms available
right now
” the receptionist said with a cheery smile. You could have
scraped my jaw off the floor with a shovel. OK, it wasn’t so bad. There was a room but it was dirty and we had
to wait an hour for it. Prez sweet talked the concierge girl into fetching us
some glasses with ice, into which we poured our mickeys of rum and gin, and
proceeded to get snockered on the lobby couch. That’ll teach ‘em!!

In
Idaho, we took no chances and began the room search early. By six o’clock we
were ambling over to the local saloon/restaurant/desperate-single-girls-hangout
for dinner. After slurping back 6000 calories each, we rolled into bed, happy
in the knowledge that by tomorrow the long weekend would be over…um, not that
it mattered because we’d be home by then anyway…doh!

So here
we are, home at last, me joyfully getting started on my neglected writing, and
Prez staring woefully at the snow-covered mountains while emailing his resume
to resorts in Fiji. We are both on diets – thank you so much for all those
double chocolate brownies Bobbi, or should I call you Betty Crocker’s Evil
Twin?

I should
remove my tongue from my cheek at this point and offer up genuine thanks to all
those folks who made our trip so special:

Miz Liz
– for being such a great friend/host/nurse to us sickly Canucks. Whenever I
stick a zinc-coated swab up my nose, I will think of you!

The
Elder Challenge Team & The Fullpots
– for being adventurous (crazy) enough
to tag along on a ClubFred tour.

All-In-Jim
& Miss Sue
– for giving us a warm bed when it was needed most. Thanks,
also, to Jim for de-cricking me, and to Sue for braving the elements at San
Basilio to come camp with us!

Chef
Wendy & Jake the Grape
– Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce pasta, Wendy you are a
goddess! Jake, thanks for coming to “blow shit up” with us and much more!

The
Flying Powers
(aka Cupid) – for stuffing us full of food…and friendship.

Guru
Terri & Lefsa Gary
– Terri, thanks for being such an inspiration in all
matters writerly. Gary, the lefsa was awesome, sorry about all the jokes…I
guess there’s really nothing else lefsa to say. Ha!

Mom II
& HQ
– for EVERYTHING! Most, if not all, of our trips to Baja would not
have been made if you weren’t there waiting for us. Thanks for the help, the
friendship, the love…and the twice baked potatoes! We miss you already.

QUESTION:
What’s your worst hotel experience?

Until
next week (I promise), I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The
Princess

*Lefsa
is a Norwegian dish made with potatoes and resembling a crepe. It is delicious
with butter, and “some people” believe that is the only way it should be eaten.
There are “some other people”, however, who assure me it is also quite good
when sprinkled with sugar. I’m not going to take sides on this highly volatile
issue as my politics have already been criticized for being too lefsa wing.

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