“You May Say I Am a Dreamer…..”
…..But I am not the only one in Cali that is hoping for some sunshine up in here.
Yes, perhaps that wasn’t Mr. Lennon’s EXACT words~ but C’MON. This was our first pacific coast shot of Californian’s on the beach…. CLASSIC example of the weather conditions we were up against for the past week.
To put it in mamma Jodes words, it was… “CRAP.”
Oh, and it doesn’t help that we keep getting calls and texts letting us know that the MN weather is 90 degrees and climbing. In fact, today it is supposed to get to 102. Ray even asked if perhaps our ‘seasons’ our switched. Folks, he wasn’t kidding. This came as we were plumetting into- or up to (however you look
at this mountainous region of Cali) Lake Tahoe. IN A BLIZZARD. And here I thought I was going to be basking in the warmth of the Tahoe-Sun-Rays? ….you don’t bring snow to the beach, and I was down right making snowballs.
But I am getting ahead of myself here…. or, a little behind.
I guess we’ve been a bit too busy living~ or hudling together to stay warm, or pretending to be farmers for a day or batting down the hatches so we don’t blow away…. or soaking in the vinyard views of sonoma valley or teaching Rays little brother Kev how to play beer pong in Vegas and eat a buffet the right way….. Regardless, the adventure must go on…. and somedays, (more often then not) my pen never touches ‘thy paper’ and I believe those are the days we live and experience the most.
I just hope that now, after all this time I get my story straight. Some of you know how I like to ‘sorta’ exaggerate…….
VEGAS BOUND….Memorial Weekend: (yes, we have some catching up to do) The sun was finally shining and we were working on Diva break #5 for the day (usually a 15 minute cool down session~ can’t let her temp. gauge get above 225 degrees) but the outside temps were rising and we were having a problem getting even 20 minutes out of ol’ Diva without pulling over; we needed to get to Vegas already, our Circus Circus parking lot was calling….the anticipation of surprising Ray’s lil’ brother Kev was driving me mad and darn it, we needed a good dose of Razzle Dazzle.
Alright, first of all…. lets me just explain this KOA-tastic’ campground smack-dab on the strip. Hidden right in the back of the Circus Circus parking lot (nothing but the classiest for these Wyatt’s)
we were offered a spacious cement spot with a poolside view (and a palm tree) with the Casino as the backdrop….and a bonus (for no extra fee) was the German dude ‘Joey’ as our neighbor. It was a steal-of-a deal at $44 per night (with clean showers, score) just how could you go wrong? …who needs 5 star classy-dassy Bellagio with its lucious poshy foo foo’-amenities and cushy beds…. BAH! We are rollin’ ground floor pool side at the ‘DIVA.’
But lets get to the good bit…. the surprise. After we got all ‘situated’ at our ‘ground floor suite,’ Ray called Kev’s hotel room at the MGM (he luckily answered) and Ray calmly asked “Hey, would you like to have a beer?” Kev- of course, being British (they are very non-american with their reactions/enthusiasm) answered “Sure, how are we going to work that?” Tee hee. You gotta love the difference in cultures, right??
So Ray being RAY decided we would walk all the strip from Circus Circus to MGM because again, thats how ‘we roll.’ Per Ray, why would we need to spend money on any form of transport when we have perfectly good legs? In fact…. that leads me to a quick sidenote…..
Sidenote: So, just when you think you know EVERYTHING about your significant other (after more then a decade of being with them, something else just jumps out, and you are like– REALLY? How did I never catch that before?) Well…. Friends, Family– Ray REALLY does not like dirty nails. Not yours or mine, he doesn’t judge!! ….. just his. Like he brings a nail brush into the shower with him. I guess he used to do this at work in the sink, so I didn’t know about it, but he brushes these bad boys sparkly-clean. So with all this engine work on the side of the road, its certainly been killing him. Dirty nails all the time. And we are camping. Not a lot of hygene. You can imagine its been getting him all up in arms. Hmmm. Too much sharing? Naaaaah. Itsn’t that what blogging is all about?
Back to walking the strip…. Have you ever been to NY? Or Any big city? One building may look close, but in reality, its crazy pants far when you start waking towards it. ‘Cosmos.’ Same goes for Vegas. Its one. Bloody. Long. Strip. And one that we walked numerous time throughout the two days were were in Vegas-town. (BTW- Since when did Vegas get so many Hollywood-tastic cartoon and movie chracters? Holy HANNA.) So we finally made it to Kev’s Saturday night around, Oh– 6:42pm. (give or take a few minutes) and they had big CLUB plans for a Memorial weekend night (perhaps one of the BIGGEST nights in Vegas) so we just caught up and made our way back. BOW WOW. I know… I know… but we spent all our loot on our pool-side view at our parking lot-suite at Les Circus Circus. Remember? But it was so good to see Kev… and SO Bizarre to see him on this side of the world!
And then came Sunday FUNDAY…… We had found out that Kev and his friend Dave had A) not been to ‘Downtown Las Vegas’ B) had not yet eaten at a Buffet and C) NEVER played Beer Pong. (I know… I know…please, try to contain your horror) So as a multiple choice question, guess what we chose to do? D) ALL OF THE ABOVE.
So, in one day we all hopped on the ‘DUECE’ bus (wouldn’t do that again- a bit slow, stick to the cabs if you have more then 2 people) and we gambled up AND down Downtown Vegas (being over dramtic about EVERY $2.00 win, but-of-course),
did the CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH Paradise Buffet at the Fremont Hotel ($10.99, best price in TOWN!) *and loved our server Monica, and her ‘gracious and generous pours’,* and then the frosting on the cake was of course….. BEER PONG at O’Sheas to end the day. To introduce someone to this game is like being in college ALL-OVER-AGAIN.
But still even as cushy our Diva-suite was that Sunday eve after our big SUNDAY adventure, Vegas always leaves you feeling like it has chewed you up and spit you out. (even after only 2 days, I blame it on all that bloody walking, not the drinking of course.)
We were a right mess on Memorial Day Monday when we rolled out of Vegas *toot toot* towards Death Valley…. (however, like most of our adventures~ we had NO idea that this was going to be our Destination for the day). With my flag tube top on (to be festive, of course) onward we went just trying to keep our eyes open. When all the sudden the freeway forked. And I am telling you folks…. it was right out of a Robert Frost poem. We chose the ‘one less traveled.’ The scenic byway…. and it made all the difference in the weeks ahead. That hwy turned into quite a beautiful and dangerous journey indeed…. But first stop, DEATH VALLEY.
Monday 5/30 Memorial Day: Now, I don’t know about you, but Death Valley for me has always evoked such… HARSH conditions. Like the crawling through the desert on the hands and knees-tastic’ kind. But in actuality, this place– this ‘Death Valley’ of sorts– if visited at the right time of year (and well, even though we were perhaps at the cutting off point, the cool weather has been following us) is absolutely spectacular. From sand dunes to canyons to eroded mountains and incredible sunsets at 282ft below sea level (at its lowest point) it was one of the most sensational drives we have ever taken through a national park. We did some backcountry camping (meaning *FREE*) and set up camp at Emigrant. Because of the weather, it was perfect… didn’t even break a sweat. In Death Valley. (avg. temps are usually in the 90’s this time of the year)
The next day Diva even made the long climb back up from below sea level to over 5,000 feet. Good on ya Dive’s! A massive accomplishment to say the least……. And still on engine #3.
So onward we went onto this new stretch of road– this mysterious California HWY395 that all the sudden became such a ‘dream.’ ….. when the winds on are your side, that is.
Everything was going so smoothly until we went through the town of Bishop. Thats when we got our first ‘warning.’ It was from a ranger as we picked up some maps in town as she asked about how our van handled ‘wind.’ “Oh- its pretty fierce that metal box out there… certainly doesn’t handle well in big bouts of breezes, but we have been doing just fine so far.” Little did we know, what sorts of ‘breezes’ lay ahead…… Perhaps it should have been the *flashing* sign ahead before the mountain pass that basically stated ‘THOU SHALL NOT PASS IF YOU DRIVE A TRAILER, VAN, METAL BOX OR ANYTHING THAT MAY BE TAKEN DOWN IN WIND/SAND STORMS.’
And then, thats when it happened…. I swear, we are constantly living in the land of OZ, my friends– with our wizards, and twisters and little dogs, too. Because thats when Diva’s roof was almost taken clear off her metal box. Ray was going literally 5mph over that mountain pass just to keep us on the road…. everything was all over the place, sand was whipping at her face (exfoliation treatment x 10) motorbikes were being whipped off the road like toy tricycles (we had to stop if one was OK, it was frightening!) and people were saving their top boxes that had been literally ‘ripped’ from the top of their trucks from going over the side of a bridge. I did ask Ray if I should “Hold down the roof so it didn’t blow off…” and he just said, ” if it goes, you go….so just let IT go.” I have never seen anything like this wind IN MY LIFE. And I am not exaggerating. It was certainly surreal. Next time I see a sign that says ‘THOU SHALL NOT PASS’… I will think otherwise. FULL STOP.
Our friend Dingo (Dean) from Cali did point us toward a campsite that evening called Convict Lake that did have a wonderful shelter from the ‘breeze.’ And an ULTIMATE backdrop of snowcapped mountains and a turquoise lake. After all the drama of our mountain-pass ‘shall not pass’ adventure, we needed a rest.
And it wasn’t until we layed the blanket down on the picnic table at our beautiful campsite with our pillows and took in the warmth of the sun and cozied up to one another that Ray all the sudden realized that we were a ‘perfect picnic for Bears.’ A 2-fer, at that. DOH.
SIDENOTE: Of course, I must add, that unforunately its at the wind-storm-tastic’ moments of my journey when I always seem to talk to ‘mom.’ Bad call, kids. Because then parents worry. MORE. Like they aren’t worrying enough that you are travelling around in this- ‘hot mess of a vehicle that has hardly gotten us from point A to B.’ I need to work on my timing. Tomorrow is a new day…..
Wednesday 6/1: So off we went…. after a quick oil change at the Convict Lake Campground (and one good scrub of zee’ nails later, you get me) we were off towards sun-in-the fun Lake Tahoe. (hardy har har) Although the winds had died down some, we wanted an expert opinoun from a ranger– so we stopped at the visitors center before the next big mountain pass and she non-challantly let us know that “the local school roof just blew off near by, but heck– GO FER’ IT. You will be just fine.” ….OKEEDOOKEE. So forgot what I told myself the day before, text my mom that I was going up the pass…. and then lost my signal so couldn’t let her know we got down from the other side. But the best part was what was happened when we reached the top. We were so ecstatic that there was no ‘breeze’ we thought we would stop to take a picture. BAD IDEA.
As soon as we stopped we tried to back up and ‘KER-PLUNK.’ Nothing. No movement. We were stalled. On the top of a mountain. With two french girls with a wide selection of poses for their photo-ops… might I add. I was sick to my stomach– “HOW could this had happened?? Again? To us? HERE? Noooooooo!” The ‘Pose Queens’ of course came over and graciously asked if we needed some ‘help’ and I just somberly shook my head that *KER-PLUNK* means DEFEAT and begged them to go back to their modeling…. Then Ray had an told me, and this is true to his words “don’t poop my pants” and said something about “They did this on the Karate Kid” and just started rolling the car down the mountain and literally turned the car as we picked up speed. Undeniably without a doubt some of the most amazing stuff I have seen in ALL my 31 years. RAY SAVED THE DAY. So with that, I leave you with VERY happy ending to the first half of our California adventure…..
Hold tight as we have still CALI- PART II to come with Dinner Bell Farm, Hwy1 and our arrival to Long Beach….