The Roller Coaster

(Saturday)

Well, if yesterday was all I hoped the journey would be – today was more than that. Much more.

However, before I progress I must introduce Geoffrey.

Geoffrey, is Sharon’s name for our TomTom SatNav, which we bought with both French (used at Easter) and American maps. He has been our guide all the way down to San Francisco. When I say ‘guide’ I have to qualify that by saying the US Highway 101 runs all the way from Astoria, the first town in Oregon to goodness knows where – probably San Diego on the Mexican border, but certainly all the way to San Francisco and for us, as far as the airport, where we had to drop the car. Those of you that know me will also know of my deep mistrust of SatNavs and that where possible I prefer to rely entirely on map reading skills. However, there is a dearth of maps over here and those I was able to buy were very small scale.

Geoffrey therefore, won his first gold star from me for taking us across from Olympia in Washington State to Aberdeen and then over the delta to Astoria – a more relaxing route than I would have chosen with the maps at hand. He and I have a wary distrust for each other but generally, I can say that he has been indispensable – especially in navigating us through the horrendous traffic and traffic system in San Francisco. However, he blotted his copy book big time today (but then had the nerve to blame me(!))

We had set our route to San Francisco to be via Mendocino, so that he would choose the coastal route and sure enough, when we got to the appropriate junction he took us off on the twenty-two mile helter-skelter ride to the coast. What a ride! The entire trip to Fort Bragg was a nerve wracking, teeth clenching, (buttock clenching!) slalom-like journey up and down the heavily wooded mountains that separated the freeway from the coast. The road is often narrow (very) and entirely unsuitable for RVs, but every so often we would turn a blind bend, very often hairpin, to meet one of these huge beasts coming the other way. This inevitably led to sphincter tightening veers to the right where a yawning abyss might wait for us (luckily the car stuck to the tarmac and didn’t lurch into the darkness). For once, compulsory speed limits on these bends were spot on, one even getting down to a suggested ten miles an hour. But the scenery (what I could see of it between my narrowed eyes and what Sharon saw whenever she opened hers) was stunning and well worth the frayed nerves.

Sadly, when we reached the coast the mist cooled the day right down and prevented us from seeing what we’d come this way to see. We stopped at Fort Bragg for a short while and completely missed Mendocino as the route took us away from the coast for a while. There were signs but it was too early for lunch and we kept on driving, hoping that by the time we did want to stop the misty would have risen. As the weather warmed and the mist did indeed rise Sharon was happily filming the beautiful river when we realised that there shouldn’t be a river there at all, it should be Ocean! When we checked the minuscule map, we realised that Geoffrey had begun to take us back to the inland 101 freeway. He’d done the ‘via Mendocino’ bit and thought sod it, it’s too cold down here I’m off back inland where it’s getting on 93f!!!!!! We noticed too late and so fell foul of the old SatNav trick of it (the SatNav) thinking it knows best. We were furious but there was little we could do – given the time we had left to us.

We stopped for a late lunch at Cloverdale. We were both fed and watered for less than $10 and were happy bunnies again. For the first time I had been able to ask for ‘pastrami on rye, loaded, hold the onions’ (was it Kojak that used to have that?) And it was delicious.

From Santa Rosa onwards the freeway was horrendous. Even the Golden Gate Bridge, which we had to drive over, was almost hidden from us by the mist that (beautifully) hung over the mountains and rolled in from the Ocean.

Tonight’s dinner was a take away from Boudin’s on the wharf. We each had a bread roll filled with chilli (for Sharon) and Chowder (for me) brought them back to our room and devoured them.  Lovely.

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