A Travellerspoint blog

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Coo's Bay

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While getting ready to spend the night in a spot by the beach, near Coo’s Bay, marked Overnight Camping Prohibited, I had a knock on the door. A cop or ranger introduced himself, I told him I was writing letters, he said my van was nice, and he said he wouldn’t bother me.

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I almost found another traveling companion. I’d pulled into another of a succession of State Parks and had another of my “flashes”: The strong notion that this might be a place to find someone traveling alone. So I kept my eyes open but saw mainly older couples looking at the ocean. So I wandered down to curiously-eroded bluffs of Shores Acres Park and down a ways I saw a young woman walking by herself. She was dressed all in black and had the collar cut off of her sweatshirt. She had tinted glasses on similar to mine. She was very good looking. So I managed to have our paths cross and started talking about the shoreline. We talked all the way back to her car. She was traveling alone and had taken a weavy course all the way from New York, similar to mine. She had a cousin along with her all the way until Salt Lake City and was now alone, going down to California to try to work in the theater. She was real nice and we talked a bit more by her car. I managed to ask her if she could be talked into having a traveling companion. She said she was glad I’d asked but wanted to be alone to think before she got there. And she was on a quick-paced schedule that I didn’t really want to keep up with (though I would have managed, had she agreed!). So I wished her luck and walked back into the park with mixed feelings. Before she had left she'd said her name was Ila.

Shores Acres Park, Coo’s Bay, Oregon

Shores Acres Park, Coo’s Bay, Oregon

Posted by VANagain 11:22 Comments (2)

Volume 2

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Posted by VANagain 00:30 Comments (1)

Reached California

When I rolled into California yesterday evening, I was accompanied by a couple from West Germany I’d picked up a little earlier in Oregon. They’d been hitchhiking around America, seeing the sights, and were heading to San Francisco. We ended up camping together in the Redwood Forest, splitting the cost.

They were pretty quiet when I first picked them up. It turns out later that they were sick of answering the same old questions that everyone who picked them up asked. (Oh, what an interesting accent, where are you from?) They were also disgusted at all the lone drivers that wouldn’t pick them up. He figured it was part of the general feeling of fear in this country. He said it had to do with all the crime.

I’d put their names in here but they were unpronounceable, let alone spellable. She said she was getting a little tired of the camping/hitchhiking lifestyle. They had come from Illinois and gone through Yellowstone, Glacier, Canada and down the West Coast. I finally dropped them in Eureka, CA which is where I am now. I felt I was going too fast.

The weather has been cloudy, foggy, drizzly, since I hit Oregon. The sun breaks through for short intervals. When it’s cloudy and cold (50s or 60s) I don’t feel like doing much of anything but driving. But I’ve tried not to do so much driving because it’s expensive and I feel like I’m missing something, covering all that ground. A lot of the time I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I try to talk to as many people as I can and see as much artwork as I can. And this business of selling drawings of the camper’s rigs has given me a bit of a purpose, but I haven’t been able to get their attention yet. I haven’t really gave it a good attempt yet, either.

So, I felt like it was time for another break from reality, so I went to see a movie: The new Clint Eastwood one called Tightrope. It was good. Suspenseful. Kinda weird. A different Eastwood movie.

Posted by VANagain 05:43 Comments (0)

Van Update

August 31st, Friday, the first day of the Labor Day weekend. I’m expecting the roads to fill up tomorrow. The northbound traffic was picking up tonight and the campgrounds were full. I’m alongside the road on a cross street of Hwy. 1, the coastal highway in California. CA doesn’t have as many state parks as Oregon did and they’re real specific about “Day Use” parks and their closing time. It seems that I won’t pay to use a park lately unless I’m with somebody. Can’t justify it.

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I saw a sign out front of a little restaurant along the Avenue of the Giants (Redwoods) that said, “Stop In and Eat or We’ll Both Starve.” Another sign kinda tells the story of what the coastal highway, Hwy. 1, is like. Pretty, though. Most every view of the ocean looks like a postcard. It feels like driving one of those video games, especially at night.

So far California’s been pretty much like most other states, with the little towns, the farms or ranches, the buildings. It’s just that all the ones along this road all have a view of the ocean. The prices seem higher already. And a legendary tradition seems to be coming to a close. The infamous California license plates, blue with yellow number and California embossed across the top, are being replaced with the new printed plates with the design at the top. Like Minnesota’s name with the trees and lake on it. I’ve seen Illinois and Tennessee like that, and now California.

Before I forget, I wanna make a list of mechanical “difficulties” I’ve had with the van. Aside from the oil I’ve gone through, I’ve used a lot of gas, getting about 14 mpg. The gas gauge is a little off and doesn’t say empty when it runs out, it says about 1/8th. Through most of the trip the motor’s run pretty hot, about 230 degrees (using some water running that way), and boils over at 250 degrees. The weather and terrain doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other. But since the real cold stuff along the northern Pacific coast and the slow curvy driving have kept it down to 195 degrees or so.

And all the time I was with Violet, the shifter would occasionally stick in first gear. I thought I fixed it by tightening a real loose nut on a shifter arm while in Golden, CO. But it got real bad in downtown Seattle, of all places. All I could do was hop out right in the middle of the busy intersection, crawl underneath, and jerk the shifter rods around until it got back to normal. (Conveniently, the van rides high enough so you can get under it without jacking it up.) It hasn’t done it since, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s got to be either in the shift column or the innards of the tranny.

I had a bolt fall out that holds the window track in the driver’s door. Fixed that after a week or two. Now the side door is another story. The bottom dead-bolt rod was scraping on a screw that holds the paneling on. In Pueblo it got cocked in there and wouldn’t close, so I forced it shut. While waiting for the Eastwood movie to start I fixed it, but it has since then fallen right out of the door. Gotta work on that, I guess.

And then there’s the damn blinker that won’t shut off because of my “custom” steering wheel! I think I’ve gone through entire states with my blinker on. Had a guy on a motorcycle wave at me and it took a while to figure out he was telling me my blinker was on. I had just fixed the backup lights before I left but they haven’t worked since.

And then there’s the jack and tire wrench I had to buy because I couldn’t find the ones I had when I left.

That’s it so far, but Blue seems to be getting better with age.

Posted by VANagain 08:44 Comments (1)

Cousin Joy

I stopped in to see Joy Kingsbury, my cousin, and her daughter, Amy. I had an old address and went to San Rafael, CA to find out she’d moved to Valley Ford, CA, which was on Hwy. 1. Turns out I’d gone right past her house without knowing it, earlier that day. Oh well.

She lives with her boyfriend Gary in a house out in the country next to the town’s only gas station. She said things were real slow there. She wishes she still lived in San Rafael, or better yet, in San Diego. As it is she couldn’t afford to live in San Rafael or real close to San Francisco, so she’s out in the boonies. But her job she’s had is so important that she commutes 100 miles to work each day. Sounds like a good example of what California is like. Tough to find good work and cheap housing.

Well we’ll see about the jobs, anyway. I’ve been looking for work since I hit the “Bay Area.” Virtually every gas station I’ve been to in Novato and San Rafael has a Help Wanted sign in the window. In fact I’m right now parked in a lot next to a Shell gas station. It’s got a huge Help Wanted sign, so I’ll talk to the boss tomorrow morning. Joy says San Rafael is a good town to live in, so I could work here a couple weeks. I’ve also got a number of a temporary agency in the area I’ll call on Tuesday. Of all the times to come into a city looking for work, I come in on Labor Day weekend. Most everything is closed ’til Tuesday.

Posted by VANagain 01:46 Comments (1)

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