A Travellerspoint blog

Car Candy and Airplane Aaron ? WTF?

LA, Tucson, Nogales and on to Austin, Texas

I thought that I was behind before....NOT! Now I am really behind. I'm going to do my best to catch up here, although I am sure that I'll miss some of the details due to my short term memory loss and the time since some of these events.

Aaron decided to travel with me to LA, and visit a friend there; Tom. It worked out for me to be able to stay with Judy, whom I had met briefly in Seattle. Judy is a friend of a friend and now I consider a friend of mine. Who knew that I was not only going to get to see old friends....but make new ones along the way! YEAH!!

Aaron, Tom, Judy and I went met for some Tex-Mex in LA (yeah...should've waited for Texas for the tex-mex). It was actually VERY good. Two pitchers of Margarita's later and a tummy full of delicious taco's, we separated ways.

Judy and I ended up at a local Country Bar somewhere on Sunset Blvd. I can't remember the name of the place. There was karoke and bull-riding (no...I didn't participate in either, much to Judy's disappointment). She did however, tell them that it was my birthday! A round of free shots and perhaps the largest ever pink cotton candy were had....and they sung Happy Birthday to me. Uggghhh!! I have always told people NOT to ever do this for my birthday, I would be so embarrased! It's interesting though, I wasn't all that embarrassed. I think that the guilt from the lie over-shadowed any embarrassment that I might have felt about being sung too.

Oh...check out the moon!!

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LEAVING LA

From La, we headed out toward Tucson. We were about to the Palm Springs exit and Aaron finally got a return call from a friend there; Don. We stopped into Palm Springs and Aaron stayed with Don while I had plans to head through Joshua Tree National Park.

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The park wasn't far and my plans were to swing around to the north side of the park and head south-east through the park to return to I10 further to the East. I headed out the way that some random person at the gas station directed me (maybe in retrospect, he was playing a trick on me). I must have gotten turned around because after driving around in the countryside of the desert surrounding Palm Springs, I somehow found myself back on the I10 headed East; just out-side of PS. I spend about 45 mins driving around in circles around PS! Nice.... ={

A while later on I10, I found myself at an exit marked for Joshua Tree! I was at the place where I had planned to exit the park back to I10. Now, since I really didn't want to trek through the park in the wrong direction, I simply pulled a short way into the park, took a couple of quick photos and got back on my route toward Tucson. I can't really comment on Joshua Tree, as I only saw a small fraction of the area; it looks to me to simply be more desert fauna.

A quick rest stop near the CA/AZ border resulted in one of the best sunsets of the entire trip. The sky was ablaze with a myriad of colors. To the west oranges and yellows and to the East the pinks and purples! BEAUTIFUL!
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MEXICO

Walking across the border into Mexico is always an unsettling feeling for me. The cattle-gates (it's my word for them) are very daunting. I felt the pit growing in my stomach as I walked closer....
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On arrival, I 'hired' a guide (not really necessary but it turned out to be a time-saver); and he headed me directly to the optical shops. The goal for this trip was to get some prescription glasses made and pick up some meds. Glasses were found, meds bought and I made perhaps the quickest trip into Mexico of my life.

Antonio and his 'boss'?
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I was surprised at the lack of other American's. Any other time I have been to a border town, the amount of American's usually outweighed the number of local's. Here....I only saw about 3 other American's during my entire time there. A little unsettling! I had my taste set on some street taco's! While waiting for the glasses, I scouted the area for my taco's....without luck. It seems that without the American tourist, the street taco stands were non-existent. I settled for a small restaurant along the sidewalk and had the most disappointing taco of my life. The taco-truck in Elko, NV was SO MUCH BETTER! I thanked Antonio on my way out of town and my palms sweated as I stood in line to get back to the USA!

AIRPLANE Aaron...Car Candy

That's his mnemonic for our little duo! Aaron was flying into El Paso to meet me again on the road. I had about five hours of quite boring driving prior to getting to El Paso.

Aaron's plane arrived without hitch and I was waiting for him over coffee at the local Denny's when he arrived. We had considered staying the night but instead, we were both pretty wired so we decided to continue to drive and stop during the night when we tired. Before leaving El Paso we stopped in for some liquid fuel at the local Starbucks. I had just asked Aaron if he was ready to go and Willie Nelson came on the overhead music with 'ON THE ROAD AGAIN' It was one of those priceless moments. I walked back into the Starbucks to get some ice/water for Aaron and when the barista saw the Nalgene bottle, she very excitedly said 'did you know that those really are bullet-proof; just like they say?' WTF? I thought. It seems that the Nalgene makers tout that their product is bullet-proof and so this girl had to check it out for real. She told me the whole story! You know your in Texas....

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We ended up not stopping until we arrived safe in Austin, TX.

The night-drive was great fun. I got to see my very first wild coyote (pics are horrible). He just stood there on the side of the exit ramp like he wasn't fearful at all.CIMG2364.jpg

A quick stop in Ft Stockton, resulted in Aaron nearly getting taken to jail! We found the largest Road Runner ever!! Aaron climbed up on the plastic bird and pictures were taken. If only he had been holding a laso! haha
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Ozona resulted in a pretty cool statue of the state of Texas where even more photos were taken.
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Just past daylight we passed the cutest little town; Fredricksburg. It's originally a German settlement and there are several German restaurants and beerhaus.
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I am now safe in Austin at Aarons Mom's house. I LOVE HER!!!

Posted by Khandilee 07:00 Comments (0)

Busy in San Fran

Wow! It's been a busy time here in San Fran. My friend Aaron doesn't let any daylight slip by without something to do!

It was great to get back to the city. I've really missed it here. I passed by my old apartment on Fillmore and became a little nostalgic. It was fun trying to figure my way around again. I am leaving tomorrow and feel like I actually kinda know where I am at and where I am headed. I will certainly make San Fran a stop when I return to the states from Germany.

Aco has been pretty good. She is getting a little confused by all of the different house rules and many different doggie friends that she's encountered, but overall adjusting well. She is sleeping in a sunny spot on the carpet right now.

My hosts, Peter and Brent here in San Fran have been wonderful. I have felt completely welcome and comfortable. Brent and I took the dogs to the Golden Gate Park Panhandle to walk and they had a good time. Aco was just lovin' smelling all the new smells. Brent and I also enjoyed a nice sidewalk lunch at one of the local cafe's. You just can't go wrong with food in San Francisco. It's always a pleasure no matter when or where and great company makes it even better.

Aaron drug me all over the place (and I enjoyed every minute of it). I got to go to one of my favorite restaurants here in SF for some Asian Noodles...CHOW! We caught a great show The Sun Road and Other Works: Multimedia Dance from The Trey McIntyre Project at the Jewish Center and then went for drinks after at a local place with a couple of friends of Aaron's. It was a late night and I slept like a baby!

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Aaron and I spent some time on Halloween day at the Open Studios on the south side of the city. It was a great time. I was impressed by how many artists were there. I found several pieces that I wish I could have taken home with me but alas, another day! I'm not even home enough to enjoy them anyway! We then spent a while at Cafe Flore with Aaron's friend Derek over a cold beer and watched all the costumed people walking by for Halloween. For dinner we ended up with a deep dish pizza that I think weighed about 12 lbs and some fabulous garlic bread with tons of butter and fresh roasted garlic at Little Star Pizza on Mission. I ended up vegging out for Halloween night and spent it relaxing catching up on emails and watching a couple of episodes of Flash Forward. Lame? YEah...whatever! I enjoyed it...

It's almost exhausting being on the road so much. It's been great to visit with everyone but I think I am ready for a day of nothing. Looking at my on-going travel plans, it doesn't seem that there will be much time for that.

On Sunday, Peter, Brent, Leo, Aco and I went out to Ft. Funston on the beach and I was able to let Aco off leash. She had a great time chasing the waves, playing with sticks and generally being a dog! After, I took her to the dog-wash and she now smells a bit better! Oh...and there were some huge Parrots at the park! Story told is that there is a guy that brings his dogs here as well as his parrots (3 of them) and lets the parrots fly around while he walks the dogs. I am amazed that the parrots don't fly off never to return. They were certainly tame and very pretty.

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Sunday night Peter (and sous-chef, Brent) fixed a wonderful meal of Red Wine Braised Beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli. For desert we had cooked apples over ice cream with a tasty home-made camel sauce. I have to say that it was better than most restaurant meals I've eaten. Good job guys. Over the course of several days with Peter and Brent, I think we consumed about 4-5 bottles of wine too.

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Today is my last day in SF and I will be leaving my great host's and heading over to Aarons for the final night. Tomorrow I am headed to Los Angeles (hopefully to meet with another traveler, Judy).

Posted by Khandilee 12:03 Archived in USA Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

A Hitchhikers Tale

Ok, please DONT FREAK OUT!! I'm ok....no harm done! I promise that I was careful and I didn't tell you until now because I knew that you would all have a heart-attack!!

I picked up a hitch-hiker! Yes! It was SO MUCH FUN!!!

How? Why?

I was driving along I5 somewhere in Southern Oregon chatting with Teresa on the phone and came upon a hitcher. He looked innocent enough...young kid (around Corey's age), clean looking, with a backpack and a guitar strapped on his back. 'OHHHH Teresa!! It's a hitchhiker! Can I pick him up?!' Well, you can imagine what the response from Teresa was, "HELL NO, Are you CRAZY?" As I pleaded with my friends good senses, there was a fuel stop for the Explorer. I took advantage of the stop (as I passed the hitcher), and stopped to feed the explorer and my-self. After eating and taking Aco potty, I hopped back onto the road. I had continued thinking about the hitchhiker and was certain that he would be about at the exit I was on by this time. I was right!! As I approached the on-ramp to the interstate, there he was! Rolling down my window, I shouted "where you headed". He was going my way it seemed so he jumped into the Explorer and off we went!!

I was correct in my first assumptions that he was just a young man. Let me introduce you.
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Jared is a 21 y/o from Denver on a very similar journey as I am. He left Denver hitching (and his mother is having near daily heart-palpitations), going from one town to the next and staying with friends. Some he knows and other were recommended through other friends. He is playing music along the way and hoping to find work in California to fund his trip for just a little while longer. He loves photography and has a tripod strapped to his pack.

We chatted easily along the drive. He was headed to Ukiah, CA to stay with friends there. Now, Ukiah is a little off the path that I was originally going to take.....but, looking at the map I decided that if I were to drive him all the way to Ukiah, I could then hop over to the ocean and enjoy some great scenery along the way.

We got as far as Willow, CA and I was getting tired of driving and hungry. I got a hotel room and Jared splurged on pizza and beer. Yes, we shared a hotel room and NO, nothing else (except some pizza and beer)!! It was great to have someone else along for part of the drive.

The next morning, after fueling ourselves with the free breakfast we hit the road again. Along the way to Ukiah, Jared got a text about a favorite band of his that was going to be playing in San Fran. He knew that I was headed to SF and asked if he could ride the rest of the way. Of course!

We traveled through a mountainous area with winding roads, great redwoods, and beautiful vistas. Stopped at Sonoma Lake, and finally made it to the coast. It was a long drive but the scenery was beautiful. Along the coast were more beautiful vistas and winding roads.
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I was impressed by Jared's courage, attitude about life and personality in general. We had an enjoyable time on the road. It was equally exciting for me as for him when we wandered out to the beach for a little stroll. It's fun sharing new experiences with people. Although I had previously explored California beaches, it seems that Jared had not. It was like seeing everything new again through someone else's eyes.

We made it all the way to San Francisco, then got stuck in traffic trying to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. With the recent cable breaking on the Bay Bridge, the traffic was horrid! I'm at Peter and Brent's now and was greeted as an old friend.

More on San Francisco later...

(don't forget to check out the gallery for more photos. These are some of the best of the trip so far!)

Posted by Khandilee 09:56 Archived in USA Tagged automotive Comments (3)

I hate it When I get Behind!

Really!! I do!! It's been too long since I last posted and I am feeling the details fading. I'm going to try to remember....

I finally arrived at Mike and Kims after the LONG trip through and around Hells Canyon. Driving into Oregon, I followed the Columbia River and through the Columbia River Valley. Wow! I wish that I had realized that this area was as beautiful as it is! There seem to be many places along the way with interesting sites and stops. I did none of them... I will someday now that I know I need too!! I had already spent too much time wandering around in Hells Canyon and it was approaching dark when I finally drove into Portland and made my way to Mike and Kims.

Again, I was blessed with wonderful hosts!! Although very busy with normal weekday activities ie; work and school, they were wonderful and I felt very at home there. We shared some great wine during my trip which I really need to remember to start writing down to remember! I can never pick a good wine and need to learn to 'steal' the names from those that know how to pick it!! ;o)

I took a day while in Portland to go exploring. I visited the Voodoo Donut shop. I've seen it featured on many a travel/food channel program and it just looked like a fun place to visit and have a taste!
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I had my taste's set on a maple and bacon (yep! BACON) donut. I ended up with an 'old dirty bastard' instead. I was told that if a person wants a 'maple and bacon' you must arrive long before I am even awake....my loss!!
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Portland is a somewhat 'gritty' city, but I really liked it. I wandered around mostly lost looking for the food carts that I was told to check out and unfortunately, never found them. Aco and I walked along the riverfront park for a bit
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then I ended my day at Elliott's bookstore,
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WOW! Loved it! I think I spent about 2 hours there and probably could have spent even more time if I hadn't been worried about Aco in the truck all alone. Bookstores are BAD for me!! I ended up purchasing some reading material for the next week or so on the road. I really didn't do too bad. It's the first real money that I've spent on the trip other than the dreaded 'feeding of the Explorer'.

I found some great Graffiti along my route:
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And saw the coolest building with artwork along the outside walls. I realized after I uploaded the photos that the artwork is actually the window blinds. There are tracks that the canvas slide along to cover the windows! How cool is that?!

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Bikes!! Lots of bikes in Portland....some normal and some quite interesting:
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Then, for you bike lovers out there....there is this....
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What is it? It's some sort of weird cover for bikes!! I guess it's to keep the bike from getting wet/dirty, pretty awesome!!

Aco was pretty docile during our day-trip through Portland. She did enjoy getting out at the riverfront and exploring. After we arrived back home (Mike and Kims) she enjoyed playing with Bently. He's a little too excited for her most of the time but I think she got used to his excitement and they played together some.

A great day exploring Portland and definitely someplace that I have hopes to return....

Posted by Khandilee 09:55 Archived in USA Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

Hell's Canyon then onto Oregon

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The day was spent driving through Hells Canyon. Was it worth it?
Well....sorta. I really can't say that I would recommend that you do
as I did and re-route your entire trip just to see it. It was
actually sort-of blah. The drive up the canyon was interesting and
there were tons of trees with fall coloring...

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But...once you've seen one yellow pine tree, all the rest look the
same. I did get some great (well I think they are great) photos of
the frost in the morning...
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Most certainly, the most interesting part of the trip was meeting Dick
and Charlene.

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Yep...some ole' guy that I just happened upon while just wanting a
picture of the river. He was stoking his campfire and started up
conversation as soon as he saw me. Now, I hadn't seen any other
people so far on the drive up the canyon. For all I know this guy
could be the next chainsaw massacre'. Did that deter me? Hell NO!
He offered a warm fire, a fresh cup of coffee and some fascinating
conversation. I was told on arrival that the 'wife' was indoors and
would be out soon. I wondered if there really was a 'wife' for the
longest time until she finally made an appearance about 40 minutes
later.

What is so fascinating about an ole' guy in the canyon? Well, either
Mr. Dick is a jack-of-all-trades, a gleeman, or straight up
pathological liar. Whatever....it was a good hour and half spent
conversing, some good coffee and most importantly, a warm fire. Let's
see if I can remember everything. Dick lived in the canyon for 25
years, until they evicted him when the government took over management
of the canyon and made it into a National Park. He worked as a tour
guide in the canyon, was in the US Air Force, mined for gold, has a
degree in Hydrology, spent time in South America where he ended up in
prison for pissing off the South American President, and has hosted an
array of visitors and travelers from abroad. It was delightful
listening to him chatter about his past history (although I only
believed about a third of what he said). His wife did corroborate
most of his stories when she showed herself a little later.

So....I didn't get poisoned by the coffee, not thrown into the river
never to be seen again, and not hacked up into little tiny pieces and
fed to the bears.....A Good day! Who knew that there are good people
in the world?

The rest of the day was spent driving....and driving....and driving!

I did have perhaps the best blueberry muffin of my life in the small
town of Joseph (just outside of the park).

In Portland now with Mike and Kim. They are wonderful hosts! Kim
made me the greatest cocoon last night and I slept like a baby....or
is that a bear? Spent most of today working on paperwork for the CA
job as well as the Germany position. With the paperwork mostly in
order, I think tomorrow will be spent exploring downtown Portland.
Maybe the rain will let up for just a little while?

(check the photo gallery for more photos)

OH!! Aco was a trooper during the long day. She played with Dick and
Charlene's dog 'Blacky' and snooped in the trees during our stops.
Then slept most of the way to Mike and Kim's.

Posted by Khandilee 17:03 Archived in USA Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (2)

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