Posts Tagged With: California

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 45

Fullerton, California

Monday, July 30, 1973

HOME!!!”  Which is all that my diary says for that day.  And plenty.

Just out of curiosity, I put our itinerary into Google maps’ directions screen, and discovered that in 45 days, we went roughly 7600 miles, not counting side trips or out-and-backs.  That equals roughly 180 miles a day.  Which really doesn’t sound like much, until you think about it being the equivalent of 180 miles every single day for 45 days.

When I was forty years old, I made what I still refer to as my Long Trip (uppercase intentional).  I drove over 14,000 miles by myself in a little under three months.  I went from here near Seattle across the top of the U.S. to Vermont, down the east coast to Florida, then across the South and Southwest to California, where I rolled my car in the middle of the Mojave Desert.  I then managed to make my way to my sister’s home in the Bay Area and flew home from there.  A year ago I blogged that journey day by day.  Like our Alaska trip, this was another journey from which I still date events in my life.  It was one of the best things I ever did.  The really funny thing is, I drove an average of almost exactly 180 miles a day on that trip, too.  And I thought I was being leisurely about it.

I am hoping to make another Long Trip in a year or two, if I can afford the gas and figure out what to do with my two cats for the duration (for my last long trip, the pair I had at the time went to stay with a friend, but I don’t want to impose on her twice).  This time I want to drive across the middle of the U.S. and come back across Canada.  If I do, I hope to blog it in realtime, or as close as I can manage given where and when I can find wifi.

Anyway, for all of you who stuck with me through forty-five days of driving to Alaska and back, I hope you’ll stick around to see where I’m going in the future.

And I hope you will want to check out my novels:

Repeating History is the first of my Yellowstone stories, and is available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.  It is about a young man, Chuck McManis, who, by virtue of being in absolutely the wrong place at the wrong time, is flung back in time from 1959 to 1877 in Yellowstone National Park, straight into the middle of an Indian war — the flight of the Nez Perce to Canada, pursued by the U.S. Army — and into his own family’s past.

True Gold  is the second in this series, and picks the story up in the next generation.  It is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  It is the story of Karin Myre, a Norwegian immigrant teenager living in Seattle, who decides to escape a future of too much drudgery and no choices by running off to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897.  Stowing away on one of the many overcrowded ships bound north, she finds herself trapped in the cargo hold with a crowd of second thoughts.  But her rescue from the captain and a fate worse than death by a determined young prospector from Wyoming and his photographer partner is only the beginning of her search for a future of her own making.

The third novel, tentatively titled Finding Home, picks up the story of the widowed father Chuck left behind in Repeating History, his search for his lost son, and what that search reveals to him about his own murky past.  It will be available for purchase in the spring of 2013.

Categories: Alaska trip, books, cats, exploring, Finding Home, highways, Long Trip, national parks, philosophy, Repeating History, self-publishing, travel, True Gold, writing, Yellowstone | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 44

Stockton, California

Sunday, July 29, 1973

“We drove 512 miles today.  We left around 7 am and drove till 6 pm.  We went through Roseburg, Grants Pass, Medford, Weed, Redding, Red Bluff, and Sacramento.  I am tired.”

And that was the second-to-last day of our trip, according to my entire diary entry for the day.

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords

Categories: Alaska trip, highways, travel, True Gold | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 3

 Sunday, June 17, 1973

near Chehalis, Washington

39 years ago we were camped a little over sixty miles from where I live today, having driven 450 miles to get there.  It was cool and rainy, which makes me smile given that the weather, locally nicknamed June gloom or Junuary, was obviously being typical for that time of year.  Summer in western Washington, as the cliché goes, starts on the fifth of July.

We drove over Siskiyou Pass that day, which is a steep, winding climb and descent even on the Interstate, and often closed by snow in the wintertime.  We crossed the Oregon border and came down into the Rogue Valley, and drove past Ashland, home of one of the U.S.’s largest Shakespeare festivals, Medford, and Grants Pass, where my parents later lived for a few years after my dad retired before they, inexplicably from my point of view, moved back to Texas for the last time.  We crossed over the mountains between the Rogue and Willamette valleys, and traversed the entire length of the Willamette Valley.  That’s pronounced Wil-LAM-it, dammit, as the saying goes, as opposed to WILL-a-met, which is how the narrator of the audio version of William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways butchered it.  I wondered after that how many other place names he mispronounced that I simply wasn’t familiar enough with to recognize. 

But I digress.  We drove past Eugene, where I later lived for several years, and down the valley past hop fields and orchards, with the low Coast Range on one side and the Cascade Mountains on the other.  We crossed the Columbia River at Portland, where we had a peekaboo view of Mt. Hood.  The Columbia Gorge, just east of Portland, was where we were in the middle of a camping trip on July 20, 1969, which is why I didn’t see the live footage of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon.  I heard the landing on the car radio.

It rained on us practically all the way through Oregon and we had a fine view of a rainbow, according to my diary.  My diary also says that we crossed a number of rivers on the highway, some of them multiple times. 

I can still remember what the Chehalis campground looked like that evening with the Douglas firs dripping and the salal all shiny.  It was a quiet campground, I remember that, too.  Both the Delano and Dunsmuir campgrounds were too close to railroad tracks, but not the one near Chehalis. 

Oh, and one other thing.  I don’t know if the year 1973 brings the words “gas crisis” to anyone’s mind, but one thing that slowed us down slightly on this trip was our inability to buy more than 10 gallons of gasoline at any one stop, due to rationing.  Considering that the Chrysler only got about 10 mpg while it was towing the trailer, this was a serious inconvenience.  It did not stop my petroleum engineer father from making this trip he’d planned for years, however, even though I do remember how horrible my parents thought it was that we had to pay almost 60 cents a gallon.

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords.

Categories: Alaska trip, exploring, outdoors, plants, travel, True Gold, weather | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, Day 2

 Dunsmuir, California

Saturday, June 16, 1973

 Day two was another “let’s see how far we can get” day.  I do find it amusing that I thought I was on I-5, when judging from my comment about going through Fresno it was obvious we were on 99, but that’s just me.  We did rejoin I-5 at Sacramento.

 I have driven and redriven parts of that day’s trip as an adult, especially the section north of Sacramento, and while I didn’t have much to say about it in my diary, I can tell you that there really aren’t many drives as boring as the one lengthwise through the Central Valley of California, no matter which highway you’re on (well, U.S. 49 is pleasant as well as historically interesting — there’s a reason it’s numbered 49, even though that’s out of order geographically — but it’s in the foothills of the Sierras, not the Central Valley). 

 Highway 99, as I remember it, alternates between small towns and extremely flat farmland, with the Sierra Nevada barely visible in the hazy distance off to the east.  The ‘highlight’ between Bakersfield and Sacramento is the city of Fresno.  Well, and the signs saying this way to Yosemite National Park.  Field crops and orchards and farm stands and downtowns with one stop light apiece, mostly, especially back then.  Except for those downtowns, it was a great highway for making time, which we did.  456 miles that day.

 About an hour north of Sacramento, the landscape begins to change.  The northern end of the Sacramento Valley (the northern half of the Central Valley, as opposed to the San Joaquin Valley, which is the southern half’s other name) is roughly U-shaped, and just north of the city of Redding, the highway starts to climb and the last of the palm trees disappear.  Ten years after my trip to Alaska, my first husband and I moved from the Bay Area to Oregon, and managed a flat tire on that first climb out of the valley.  Changing a rear flat on a car with a U-Haul trailer attached in 95 degree wind was not fun, as I recall.

 By the time you get to the small town of Dunsmuir, which was our destination that night, you’re in the mountains, with junipers and pine trees, and canyons and rocky cliffs.  A whole different world.  There is a state park nearby called Castle Crags, which is lovely, but since we had the trailer, we stayed at a private campground in town.   

 And that was the end of our second day.

 True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords

Categories: Alaska trip, exploring, outdoors, parks, self-publishing, travel, True Gold | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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