Thursday, August 21, 2014

On The Road Again

Big Cuter's friends are getting married. TBG and I are the only parents of friends who were invited.  It's an honor we couldn't refuse and so, today, Mr. I Hate Hotels and I are packing and planning for a road trip.

He's got a brand new BMW 435i, dubbed FlapJilly's Uncle Beemer by Little Cuter, which is clean and shiny and ready to roll.  His knee is acting up, he's anxious about travel, and I'm trying to ignore the angst and concentrate on the adventure .... and on the love at the end.

It's been much too long since I've seen my son; I'm looking forward to lots of big hugs and long talks and leisurely walks.  He has no compunctions about straightening my gait and complimenting me when I self-correct; it's physical therapy with lots of love and it makes me very happy.

It's a two day drive to Carmel, the destination wedding's destination.  We cross Arizona, eschewing the no-tell-motels in Quartzite.  On our first drive to Tucson we spent seven miserable hours in the best place we could find, wearing protective clothing on every body part which might touch a surface in the room.  We checked out as the sun rose.  Now, more seasoned travelers on that route, we know to climb The Grapevine and sleep in Valencia.

You can see Valencia from a long way away, because the roller coasters at Six Flags tower over the landscape.  But first, you have to go over The Grapevine. 

Did I mention that TBG and I spent several hours at a rest stop on The Grapevine, watching his overheated brand new Mercedes gasp for air, waiting for the tow truck, going back down into the valley from whence we'd driven only hours before, leaving that car and piling into my little Honda v-tech hatchback ... and sleeping in Valencia?

The California Department of Transportation describes it as 40 miles of concrete, a twisty, curvy eight lane highway that has a dramatic 6% downhill grade terminating at the community of Grapevine.  Google Maps tells us that the village consists mainly of roadside services.  For us, it's a place to pull off and stretch our legs after negotiating the descent from Fort Tejon,  4,183 feet above us. 

Without the 19,000 big rigs Caltrans estimates travels this road daily, it might be lots of fun. The scenery is magnificent, the air is cool and crisp (if it's not raining), and the road surface makes a pleasant hum.  If I ignore the trucks pull out here if brakes fail lanes (they go uphill on the mountain side of the highway and end in giant sand walls), if I close my eyes when we are passed on the left and the right by giant metal boxes, if I can take deep breaths and count on TBG to be the safe and careful driver I know he is, I'm fine.

There are times when the flatness of the Midwest is very appealing.

But I won't be behind the wheel.  Of that we can be certain.  When we drove from Tucson to Chicago I was the pilot for exactly 60 miles .... between one rest stop and the next .... as my most reluctant passenger refused to close his eyes and sleep .... because he couldn't relax with someone else driving.  He drove thousands of miles, without complaint.  I read. I looked out the window.  It worked for us then and it works for us now.

Valencia is a creation of its location.  The frontage road of I-5 is chock-a-block with hotels of every affinity group imaginable.  There are four Marriott brands alone. I'm torn between the free breakfast and WiFi at the Fairfield Inn and the newly renovated rooms at the Courtyard.  Since we'll be traveling through town again on the way home, I suppose I could use both of them. 

Such are the decisions facing me.  They are nice problems to have.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to our dry state. I do everything possible to keep from going over the Grapevine. Southern California is seldom a destination for us. We are heading to Santa Cruz next week, and for that we go north before turning west, towards the ocean.


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