Archive - Jan 2004

California in the review mirror

It was quite a three weeks in California. I enjoyed it. Saw a lot of new territory. Lots of good visits.

One common denominator: Every conversation at some point wandered onto the topic of high real estate prices. The high prices are good for some people, bad for others, but disorienting for all, I sense. There are outcries for government intervention in what is called the "housing crisis." However, I can't imagine any government interference which would be anything but a confusing nightmare of regulation.

January 30th

Hairy Drive

Took off this morning from Eugene, OR, aimed for the other side of the hill--Prineville, OR. Eugene is on the wet side of the Cascades, Prineville on the dry side.

It was wet in Eugene this morning--pouring rain. The lawns are beautiful green, as are the evergreens. Eugene is in pine forests.

The climb up the mountains is gradual, and follows the McKenzie River gorge. The river is flooded right now due to a wet winter. It is white water all the way. For some reason, the road is quite straight with gentle curves, unlike California's twisted coastal roads.

January 29th

Thoughts on California's scenery

I crossed from California into southern Oregon yesterday afternoon. I believe I was in CA for three quick weeks, moving from the southern tip to the northern border.

The scenic highlights: Number one is the redwoods. You have to see them to believe them. They are really the most amazing thing I have ever seen. If pictures don’t do them justice, which they don’t, how will words? Especially at the going rate of one thousand words per picture.

January 28th

Leaving CA

Today I went through several more patches of redwoods. It stopped raining long enough for me to take a 1/2 mile trail. Every grove is different, all grand. I can't walk fast through them--I just keep looking up and would trip. Also took a one-lane gravel road out to the coast within the Redwood National Park. Whoa! The road hung to a cliff 500 feet above the ocean. At least 500 feet. I will try to describe it in more detail later, but right now I am using the hotel computer. Their phone lines don't support internet from the room (a frequent problem, but usually not for Holiday Inn Express).

January 27th

The Big Trees

Today I drove north on California Highway 1 from Fort Bragg on the California coast. The road twisted and turned for 30 miles until it rejoined US 101 and headed north a bit inland. Soon the highway started through the redwoods.

Visiting the offices of the AVA

I stopped by the offices of the Anderson Valley Advertiser yesterday in Boonville. Boonville is in the boonies, sheltered from the crush of population by a thirty-mile-long road so winding that you can only pass in two places. Boonville has one main street. It is unpolished and scruffy.

Second growth redwoods

On the way from California’s interior to the North Coast, I drove through about twenty miles of redwoods on California Highway 128. These are “second growth” redwoods. You can see the giant stumps of the original old growth trees covered in moss. What is heartening is that around these stumps have arisen new trees, many of them already well over 150 feet tall.

It rains a lot on the North Coast. I was going to wait until the rain stopped to head north on the coast highway, but I see from the forecast that I would be waiting a long time.

January 26th

Night out in Oakland

If you want a macabre movie, try Mystic River directed by Clint Eastwood. It is a murder mystery, but even darker than most. The movie shows off the talents of Sean Penn. I can’t really discuss it without giving away the plot, except to say I recommend it only if you are certain that a something gloomy isn’t going to send you over the edge. I was in a good mood going into the movie due to the fact that it was preceded by a 1/2 hour performance on the theater’s mighty Wurlitzer theater organ.

January 25th

Busy by the Bay

This week's column is posted to the left. Friends I met on the baseball tour last summer have been giving me great tours of the Bay area. I have been having so much fun I haven't had time to post reports about it all. Tomorrow night, I plan to check into a small hotel in a small town in northern California where I will sit down and write up some more detailed updates.

January 24th

Bay Tour

Yesterday, Greg, another friend from the baseball tour last summer and a lifelong resident of the Bay area, took me on a tour.

The first stop, of course, was the Pac Bell ballpark, home of the San Francisco Giants, which is no longer Pac Bell due to a buyout by some other company which will now have its name on the stadium. Whatever the name, the stadium is one of the most beautiful in the major leagues.