Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tijuana Mexico and San Diego in the Mini

I left Laura and Gilbert at the dog friendly Marina Gateway Bestwestern Plus.  We didn’t want to risk taking Gilbert across another border even though we had his rabies and vaccinations all up to date.  Laura wasn’t keen on going to Tijuana and happier to stay with Gilbert and read in the hotel. It had been a whirlwind drive. I just wanted to cross the border and say I’d been there.  I lived in Mexico most of a year down in La Paz when I’d sailed the SV GIRI down the coast and sailed around Sea of Cortez.
Crossing the border into Mexico wasn’t a problem because it seemed they used their lottery system for which cars to stop. I shot through with the pack.  On the other side of the border I immediately saw the classic Mexican wealth and poverty.  Beautiful high rise hotels and shopping malls while on the hill there were shacks.  I got out and walked about a bit but was always worried about my car.  I even saw a sign that said “Did you buy car insurance?”
Oops, I thought, I put my trust in Jesus, and was rewarded that moment by a view of a giant Jesus on a hill.
I hoped I wasn’t overworking my exhausted angel.
I stopped at a mall with it’s own security in the parking lot feeling safe about leaving my new Mini. It’s was the newness and the Canadian license plates that concerned me. I was thinking of bringing a little something of Mexico back for Laura but everything in the mall was upscale International.  I did find a little leather purse that had a bit of Spanish flavour so I got that for an incredibly low price compared to it’s cost in Canada.  The sales clerks spoke English and Spanish. I tried a combination of my long unused spanish with English bridging words.  It causes everyone I speak to to smile but I seem to be understood.
When I returned to the parking lot I found that I’d left my passenger window open after taking the ticket for the ‘secure’ parking lot. The older little security fellow walking amongst the car saw that when I did and smiled. I went back and gave him an American fiver.
“Nice car,” he said, “Maybe better you lock it. next time.” Obviously. I could tell he’d been keeping an eye on it for me.
I ordered a Mocha in the Macdonald’s, “Quisiera un Mocca, por favor”.  I said proudly.  ‘Cuantos Americano”.
Amazing it was only less than 2 dollars.  I couldn’t understand what she was saving partly because I’m increasingly deaf and wasn’t wearing a hearing aid. Having heard my spanish, she kindly treated me like a child, showing me first one finger then another and then giving me a bunch of change.  I’ve always loved the way Mexicans treat old people.
Sundown comes quick in the south. I’d hardly existed when it was dark and I was lost.  I followed a sign saying “San Diego’ but got way laid by another sign saying ‘Centro’ before remembering Centro was another town.  I turned around and was travelling high speed through Tijuana at night in a mass of Mexican crazy drivers.  It’s like the lights go out and the radical Mexican comes out.  It wouldn’t have been surprised  to see Pancho Villa hanging out of a pick up truck window trying to decapitate me with a machete.  I was dodging and weaving through traffic trying to cross freeway lanes to get to exits. Everyone’s horns were honking.
I went through three round abouts with life threatening moments and joy in the incredible torgue and pick up of the Mini Cooper engine. I had to stop three times for directions from locals.
“No Derecha, derecho.  ” she’s said.  I’m thinking ‘recho’ , that means right but I’m lost.  Derecho/derecha.  Cho means straight, cha ending means right.  I turned right.  It was wrong. I was on a high speed freeway going east rather than north.  I might have even turned ‘izquierdo” somewhere too. I think it was the ‘izquierdo’ turn that got me a whole lot more honks and at least one fist.
I just booted the gas to get out of there expecting to hear the crash behind me followed by gun fire.
Again I saw the San Diego sign and followed it to a very sketchy place which I decided couldn’t be right and must be a tourist trap.  In my mind it was definitely a place where drug lords, cannibals and terrorists would feel at home. The street lamps were out there, Spagetti western music was playing and I wasn’t Clint Eastwood.  I was so impressed with how quickly my Mini got into reverse and then hung a tight u turn.
Surreptitiously, it was clearly a miracle,  I found the San Diego #5 border crossing where I’d come in. The line was an hour to two long, sharp contrast to my entrance.  Through out the wait every thing that possibly  could be bought in Mexico was shown to me at my car window by a wide variety of young to old entrepreneurs:food, statues,  crosses, blankets, flowers.
Finally at the border, the older American customs man asked me where I was from and where my license was from, ‘Canada,British Columbia”.  “Welcome back,” he said and I felt good.
20 minutes later I was with Laura and Gilbert thankful to have my body parts.  I’m too old to get lost in strange cities in new cars. It inflames my over active imagination. There was no danger from the locals,  The only real danger was my driving.
At the Best Western we ordered room service and watched Big Bang Theory. I had a great New Yorker steak.  Gilbert had a burger paddy and Laura had sliders and mashed potatoes.  We celebrated with banana splits for desert, Gilbert was more than happy to lick the bowls.  After a night of driving lost in Tijuana this was more my speed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Soledad to SAN Diego in the Mini Cooper with Dog and Girl

We arrived at another Motel 6.  They’re dog friendly.  Gilbert likes anything dog friendly.

We left Soledad at 830 and have arrived here just after dark at 7 pm.  We’ve stopped at rest stops for pee breaks and Gilbert walks. We’ve filled up a couple of times. The Mini is getting great mileage.

The weather has been amazing.  With the panaramic sun roof on the Mini open we’ve acquired a tan. Laura and I had to take off our sweaters before noon and Gilbert was panting most of the day.  Definitely shorts and tshirt weather tomorrow.  We love the sunshine.  

American free way rest stops are great. We stopped at one where there was even a sign in the pet area warning of rattlesnakes that might fancy one’s children.

I couldn’t drive past LA without cruising down Hollywood Blvd.  Both Laura and I have been here before. With all the NCIS Los Angeles I watch because I love the characters , especially Hetti, I wanted to see the Hollywood sign again.  They show it so often in the show.  

We ended up driving up Laurel Canyon expecting to see famous people taking out their garbage but even at Lookout point we didn’t see anyone we recognized.  

No one recognized us either. I would have at least thought someone would have known Gilbert.

We cruised Sunset Blvd but it’s not the same as it was 30 years ago.  Without Cecil de Mille or the Rat Pack it’s just another street.  

Heading back to the freeway, there was Hollywood Bowl and that fabulous Hollywood sign. We’d just listened to an audio book on the way down where the serial killer drop a body by one of the letters. On this last stretch though we really enjoyed Michael Connolly’s Detective Bosch finding suicides were really homicides.  Great writer.

On the number 5 we got off at a view point and watched the most beautiful sunset over the Pacific. It was wonderful  looking out from the coast remembering sailing down this way some 20 miles off shore. SAN Diego Harbour is something special in my memory.  

Now here we are. 2500 km, 3 1/2 days of all day driving.  Today we were speeding along in 8 lane freeways at 120 to 140 km /hour with motorcycles passing us on the white lines between cars.  

I’m exhausted. These American freeways are so demanding I had to forego reading and texting on  Facebook.

Laura is glad she arrived alive. We’re now settling in for SAN Diego pizza.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Driving the Mini Cooper from Eureka to San Francisco, Christmas Day

Christmas Eve we stopped at dog friendly Motel 6 Eureka. Eureka Christmas Eve!
While we were sleeping in the Motel 6 Jesus was being born for approximately the 2017’s time.
Laura and I slept in.  While Laura was showering I walked Gilbert and got us coffee.
10 am we got started. The weather was incredibly warm.  Fragrant sea air.   Heading south we passed through more Red Woods.  Then valleys of lovely farmlands.  California hills with dry yellow grass appeared. Laura pointed out the pampas.  It was terrific seeing palm trees.
Eventually we passed Marin County. So many memories of living in San Rafael, anchoring in Sausalito, eating breakfast in Tiburon. Then Golden Gate Bridge appeared.  I love the Golden Gate Bridge.  Passing over it, passing under it.   Sailing in the SV Giri from Vancouver in fog.  Sailing out from under it to cross the Pacific solo in winter.  I love that Bridge.  Now Laura, Gilbert and I  in the Mini Cooper were passing over it again.  What a rush!
We drove about San Francisco a bit.  There was just too many cars.   A line up of cars just  to get to Fisherman’s wharf turned us back.  I’d tied my sailing boat to Pier 39 so what more is there to do there.  Laura had been to San Francisco too. We began singing, "Do you know the way to San Jose? and headed south.
We kept on to Soledad.  We're here in dog friendly Soledad Motel 8.

Three Macdonald’s Restaurant pit stops fueled the road trip. Gilbert loves Macdonald's plain beef patty. Those MacDonalds staff were amazing, working so hard and efficiently on Christmas.

Gilbert liked the rest stop walks too, the international au de dog poo and piss.

I love the Mini Cooper. Laura loved the Hail Mary roof  handle.   While I was doing 65 miles on serpentine highways she told me the Mini's were rally cars. I loved driving down the  amazing California highway 101.

 Incredible!  Roadtrip! Christmas day roadtrip!