Day 4 – California Trip 2011

I snapped a couple of pics of our funky ’50s hotel before breakfast this morning.  In this (darn blurry) picture, you’ll see our digs.  The car is parked in the carport below our room.  To access our room, we had to go up the circular staircase and open the sliding glass door!

  We had a nice continental breakfast in the office (shown below).  

While there, I spied a unique game called “Dutch Blitz” on the top of a stack of board games available for guests to play.  I had “vonderful goot fun” just reading the description!

After a nice breakfast we began planning our route.  David decided to drive to Ventura, so we headed out, away from the pretty mountains and back to the flatlands of the San Joaquin Valley, but not before we came upon a beautiful lake called Kaweah.  We learned that it is used for flood control by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  We made a brief stop, where I saw a real live road runner birdie!  I didn’t get a picture though, darn it.  We continued our journey and passed by lots of fields of artichokes, brussel sprouts and strawberries.  After a while, the fields disappeared and the land was just dry and desert-like.  We found ourselves on something called the “Petroleum Highway” aka Highway 33.  Apparently bumper stickers have been made saying, “Pray for me.  I drive Hwy 33.”  It is an oddity for sure.  It’s oil rigs, power and pipelines for miles and miles, for as far as the eye can see.  It was fascinating, strange, ugly yet oddly admirable all at the same time.  To give you an idea of what I’m talkin’ about check out this video clip:

[vimeo vimeo.com/31408881]

We were getting a little low on fuel…for both the car and us, but there really wasn’t anywhere to stop, and I had to pee!  We finally came upon a place called Blackwell’s Corner.  Yay!  We gassed up and went inside to potty.   Get this, inside the front door there was a blower machine that blew a strong gust of air on each person that entered.  There were a lot of flies around (not sure why) so I can only assume it was to help keep flies out of the facility.  Sooo weird!  Once inside, we found ourselves in a large building that housed a convenience store, restrooms (yes!), a souvenir store and even a diner!  All this out in the middle of NOWHERE.  We pottied and when I came out from the restroom, David told me that this place was the last place that James Dean stopped at before his horrific car accident that ended his life on September 30th, 1955.  Interesting!  We never intended to see or visit here, but I’m glad we did. 

We decided to grab a bite to eat at the diner. Once again, it was odd.   There was a mannequin of James Dean sitting at the counter.  I sat a couple of seats down from him while we waited for our food, which took FOREVER to arrive. When it finally came, we ate and ran. BTW – the food was really good.  The looooong wait really sucked though.  That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

We continued our drive, and made destination adjustments as we went.  Ventura got nixed.  We took 33 all the way to Pacific Highway 1.  Finally, we made it back to the coast!!!  We drove up PCH1 from Santa Barbara to Morrow Bay, where we were going to stay for the night.  The drive up the coast was ok, but not very photogenic…yet.  Morrow Bay was really pretty though!  We stayed at Ascot Suites and once again, we got a complimentary upgrade on our room!  It had a sitting area, huge walk in closet, king bed and a balcony.  We had a great view of Morrow Rock!  Ascot Suites also has a complimentary wine pour from 5:30-6:30.   I took full advantage of this, as you can see. 🙂

Morrow Bay is only about 20 minutes from where Templeton, CA.  This is where our friend Austin Lawless lives (or lived, at that point in time).  Austin is a drifting friend of ours.  …not that he drifts like a hobo (although he IS back in Georgia now), but drifts cars, and does so quite well.  Anyway, David was able to arrange dinner together with him – yay!  Austin drove to Morrow Bay and we three walked to Dorn’s Breakers Cafe for a fabulous dinner together.  I learned that Austin grew up in much the same (crazy) way David did.  I really enjoyed hearing all their stories of old, and new too.
Great times!  Afterward, we ambled back to the hotel, where both guys had to (of COURSE) check out the engine on the Mercedes.

After Austin headed back home, I took David up to the “secret” rooftop deck of the hotel.  It was neat up there with some cool views, but it was super cold, so we didn’t hang out long.  We went back to our room and settled in the for the night.  I peeked out our windows and saw The Rock Espresso Bar across the street.  It was closed for the day, but a guy inside was still workin’ away into the wee hours.  I admired that a lot.  I closed the curtains, and my eyes for the night.  Slumber beckoned….

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