In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lark: The End

I stayed at the Jurisich's household for the rest of the weekend. It was quite a pleasant stay that I would gladly repeat. They treated me to some lovely things such as a pedicures, hikes as well as city life. We went to go see wicked the Broadway show which was wicked. And spectacularly amazing. Then they took me to the Slanted Door which I learned was quite a famous vietnamese restaurant. Later, upon telling my parents I had gone there, they both jumped 3 feet in the air and yelled, "THE Slanted Door!!! They took you THERE!?!?! Nooooot faiiiirrr...." It was really good. So I thank the Jurisich's for boarding me for that weekend. It was really fun.

But now it is all over. We are home. It feels like I never left. Its reealllyy hot here. Anyway all this trip stuff was fun. I would do it again. Just not this month.

And the Wicinas family all lived happily ever after.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dave: Old Friends

After the Korean tacos we headed out to Santa Monica to meet Bruce Favish and Roma. We had lunch at a little bistro on the sidewalk on the Third Street Promenade.

Santa Monica is denser and busier than ever, but still entertaining. Pamela and I kept saying, "I recognize this side of the street but that side is completely new." It's been 16 years since we lived here. They have the nerve to keep changing things since we left.

After lunch we strolled on the palisades to get a little taste of the ocean views.

Then it was time to battle traffic on the way back to the Gentiles. Oh my god, the traffic is never-ending here. I know when you live here you learn how to structure your life to avoid traffic. As a visitor, however, it's so daunting. Makes us so glad to be living in sleepy western Massachusetts.

That night Ralph and Karen invited a dozen or so of our old friends over and whipped up a great meal of shish kabob with their typical easy grace. We spent several hours visiting with Steve and Patty, their kids, Jon Root, Bruce and Roma, Sue DiJulio, and Bruce Carter, who we had not seen in a dozen years or so. It was great to reconnect with all of them.

What a great time we had with Ralph and Karen and all our other LA friends.

Dave: Mexican and Korean Tacos

We left Lark and Linden in the Bay Area. Lark will be staying with the Jurisichs, Linden with the Wicinas family. They are flying home, unaccompanied, on Tuesday. We are worried about that, but I guess it's a growing experience--for them and us.

After getting the kids squared away, Pamela and I blasted down the 5 to LA, arriving just after rush hour (meaning about 1 AM). Ha ha. That's a joke. There is no end to the rush hour in LA! We got there around 7 PM and decided to visit our favorite burrito stand, Tito's Tacos. It was as filling as every. We even remembered the details of our typical order Perhaps the only difference is that everyone now stares at their phones while they wait for their food. I'm not sure that's an improvement.

Then we headed over to the Gentile's, who welcomed us to their home with typical easy-going hospitality. It was great to visit with Karen and Ralph. Their lives are on the cusp of some changes. Noah is about to leave for college. Karen has started a new job in San Francisco, and they are pondering how to set up a new pattern for their lives that allows for Karen to work while Ralph keeps a foothold in Los Angeles.

The next day Pamela and I did a drive-by of Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, which was wonderful. We were supposed to meet Bruce Favish for lunch in Santa Monica but we were also intrigued by a phenomenon we had read about, Korean tacos.

Pamela got online and determined that one of the Korean taco trucks would be on the west side this afternoon. So we set our navigation system and prepared our taste buds. Our plan was to eat a little pre-lunch.

We arrived in a parking lot behind a non-descript office building in Brentwood. There are a few people hanging around. After a few minutes they all start queuing up. Pretty soon there are 35 people standing in a line in a parking lot, but no sign of the truck. It's supposed to show up at noon, but noon passes and no truck. Lots of people consult their phones. Word goes out that the truck is delayed 30 minutes for mechanical problems. One of the reasons I had heard about the Korean taco trucks was because they are often cited as one of the first practical uses for Twitter. The crowd can tell you when the blessed truck is in your neighborhood. We saw this in action while we waited.

Pamela and I had a few minutes to spare and this was such a strange event we decide to wait it out. Finally the truck rolls up. The driver apologizes but everyone grovels and says, "No problem." Clearly these people LOVE these tacos and don't want to mess with the driver.

I have to say, the tacos were incredibly good. Slightly sweet, fairly spicey, excellent meat. A most unique taste combination. We only had one each. I could have eaten five. Although it was just a few bites, it was one of best meals we have had on the whole trip. No wonder people are lining up in parking lots.

Dave: The Spirit of the National Parks

We spent a day in the Bay Area. In the morning, we went to John Muir's house in Martinez, something we had never done while living there.

Last winter Linden and I had watched the PBS special about the national parks, and Linden became very interested in John Muir. We thought it fitting to visit his home. After all, it was his legacy that preserved so much of the wild lands we saw on this trip.

Surprisingly, Muir lived in a large Italianate home on a hill in Martinez, amidst a large property filled with fruit trees. (He had to wisdom to marry well, and eventually he inherited this big house from his father-in-law.) It was interesting to see Muir's home and develop some images of him that differ from the iconic shots, such as he andTeddy Roosevelt on top of Half Dome.

Afterward I went back to my brother's and did some BMC work while Pamela and the kids went into the city to visit Chinatown, Ferry Plaza, and other fun sites.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Tuesday, July 27

9:20 Left Best Western in Fort Bragg

10:20 Settled on a bakery/cafe in Mendocino for breakfast. Ordered bagels and cream cheese and combined them with the smoked salmon we had purchased on the Klamath Indian reservation. This combination, along with the best coffee we've had in weeks, made an excellent breakfast.

10:45 Pamela strolled through Mendocino while Dave, Lark, and Linden walked along the headlands, looking down into the coves and sea caves. The headlands walk was excellent, even though the blackberries that grow everywhere are not yet ripe.

12:30 Left Mendocino

1:30 Stopped at the Standish winery for tasting. It's an old apple press. Our visit was not an entertaining as a visit Pamela paid here in 2007 with Bruce and Linda. The winery is in the process of being sold, under court order, as a result of a family dispute. We bought an excellent dry rose.

1:50 Stopped at the Goldeneye vineyard. Sat out on their beautiful patio over looking the vineyards while the fountains splashes. We drank a toast to our friend Linda who was with Pamela in this same place in 2007. She passed away last fall and we miss her.

2:30 Stopped at the so called General Store in Booneville for a late lunch. Food was very good.

3:30 Finished listening to Jane Eyre, after many long days. We all liked it a lot, even though we felt Charlotte could have used an editor. She seemed to repeat her points a bit often.

4:15 Stopped in the upscale town of Healdsburg for coffee and a late afternoon treat.

6:23 Arrived at Wicinas west. Mileage: 58989 (approximately 6,000 miles since we left Fallbrook, 4 and a half weeks ago.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Monday, July 26

9:20 Leave the Inn of the Beachcomber.

9:30 Stop at a scenic point to view ocean rocks and take pictures with the Jurisich family. One of the rocks has a cool sea tunnel carved through it.

10:00 Stop in Brookings to buy cherries and nectarines as a roadside stand.

10:15 Stop at Dutch Bros. Coffee for coffee and hot chocolate. Very hot coffee!

10:40 Enter California and had to surrender cherries we just bought. We were allowed to proceed to the safety zone and eat as many cherries as we could before surrendering the rest.

10:52 Coffee now cool enough to drink.

11:35 Searching for a charcuterie in Crescent City. Fail to find it. Have to stop at Safeway for picnic supplies.

12:15 Photo op of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox.

12:20 Purchase some smoked salmon from the Klamath Trading Post.

12:30 Entered Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

1:11 After making an incredibly beautiful drive through the redwoods, we meet Jurisichs at the visitors center and picnic at Big Tree, which, as you might guess, is an exceptionally big redwood. Then we take a three mile hike through Cathedral Grove. At the very end, Linden and I peel off and head our own way, convinced that everyone else is heading the wrong way. We are correct, and we spend the next half hour driving between Big Tree and the next trailhead looking for our compatriots. Eventually they find their way back to Big Tree.

4:30 Say goodbye to the Jurisichs for now.

4:45 Stop at visitors center for Redwoods National Park for my last patch of the trip.

6:30 Swing through Garberville looking for lodging and restaurants. There are a couple decent looking motels, but the restaurants are all pretty grim and the town seems to be crawling with grubby, pseudo-hippies. We push on for Leggett.

7:00 There is nothing in Leggett. We have no choice but to head for Fort Bragg, but that’s a torturous 50 mile drive, starting with 22 miles through narrow winding roads. The kids have become extremely good road trip travelers and tonight they get to prove it as we make this long drive without a single complaint, despite the fact we are all starving.

8:45 Stop at the North Coast Brewery and Grill in Fort Bragg and devour some nachos. Then proceed to dinner

9:45 Check into a Best Western in Fort Bragg for our last night of the trip.


Sunday, July 25

8:55 Departed Double Tree Inn

915 Breakfast at the Grand Central Bakery on Hawthorne in SW. Ate good pastries and bought some excellent breakfast for today’s picnic lunch. Lark had bread and water—her choice.

9:55 Safeway stop for picnic supplies.

11:55 Stop for gas in Eugene. Trying to get hold of Betsy Finegan to set up a rendezvous on the Oregon coast tonight. We are driving up the Willammette Valley. It looks a lot like Napa except it’s a little more green and a little less posh.

12:15 Stop at a Farmer’s Market in Drain but they forgot the farmers. Now we are making a beautiful drive along the Umpqua River valley.

1:40 Stop at the Visitor’s Center for Oregon Dunes. We are looking for a good picnic spot. They ask, “Are you here for the buggies?” Everyone rides ATVs on the huge dunes along the coast here. Pamela says no.

2:00 We stop at a picnic area along the beach but it’s dusty, grim, and infested with ATVs. We push on.

2:15 We stop at a very pretty picnic area near the Umpqua lighthouse. We eat a hasty picnic lunch while the fog rolls over us. Too cold to sit down. Also, we are short on rations as we never did find fresh fruit. Today chocolate covered blueberries will have to serve as fruit.

4:05 Stop at a beach overlook in Port Orford. Beautiful view of some sea haystacks, or water hoodoos, as we call them. We looked as some beautiful flowering snapweasels.

5:00 Arrive at our motel, the Inn of the Beachcomber in Gold Beach. This was a great piece of Internet research combined with some luck. We reserved two rooms, one for us and one for the Jurisich’s. Our very nicely appointed rooms had decks looking out over the dunes. Jump off the deck, cross a lawn, take a trail through the dunes, and you’re on a huge long stretch of beach that’s largely deserted. The weather has cleared and it’s a great time to be there.

We have a wonderful night with the Jurisich family. We take a long long walk on the beautiful beach, all the way to a couple distant water hoodoos. Linden builds some elaborate sand fairy structures. Pamela and Betsy visit on the deck. The fathers and kids play Frisbee and soccer on the grass outside the deck. We order take-out seafood from a local restaurant and eat at a picnic table on the lawn and drink beer.

Later on the girls take a flashlight and take a walk on the beach. They see a bonfire and they have been telling Linden that hoboes gather on the beach around bonfires. Only then they can’t find their way back to the hotel. It’s tricky to find the path through the dunes. Eventually they end up at a neighboring hotel and have to make their way home. Right around the time they return, we are realizing they have been gone a suspiciously long time and are about to send out the police. But, all’s well that ends well.

A most excellent night. I would gladly come back to the Inn of the Beachcomber.