Monday, August 12, 2013

Do you know the way away from San Jose? (updated with photos)

I hit the road Sunday morning, missed all the good traffic on U.S. 101 south of San Jose.  Found Gilroy, but I was too early to buy pistachios or anything fruit or nut-related.  Durn.  I stopped a few times along the way.  It's quite boring on U.S. 101, I-5, SR 99, or SR 58 (except for Pacheco Pass Highway, which has some good vertical angles and some decent speed) on the 6 hour drive from the San Fran Bay Area to Barstow or the Los Angeles area.  You see a lot of farms, which is good because there are a lot of people to feed in California.

I had to laugh at a place in Wasco, CA because I couldn't believe that they were selling Pastrami and Teriyaki at the same place.  I can't imagine a Jewish deli having Japanese food--although I've seen some Kosher-version of a Teriyaki sauce--but not the real marinade.

In fact, there were a lot of Pastrami places along State Road 46 in Wasco.  The Carl's Jr. there had a copy of the original menu with Pastrami on it.  I should have tried it, but I wasn't sure of the quality and being sick on the road is not something I wanted to do.

I stopped briefly at Tehachapi to get fuel and admire the scenery.  It's very pleasant, even at the Love's Travel Stop.  (I've been to plenty of them lately, because they're consistent and do what they say they will.  Besides, getting diesel fuel is still a bit hit-or-miss and I want to make it to the next fill up, even if it is 600 miles away.)

I stopped at the Super 8 motel in Barstow and they still had my special memory foam pillow that's been so good and would be difficult to replace.  I didn't expect that they would be so good.

I went from there to In-N-Out on Lenwood Avenue.  I have never seen such a crowd.  It was difficult to find a parking place at all, but it was attached to a craptacular outlet mall (across from Tanger Outlets), and I parked further away.  Walking into the store (only one of two I've seen with an inside) was even more spectacular with maybe 100 people, more people at outdoor seating, and more yet in the drive-thru line.

It didn't take long to order but getting food took a while, and my food wasn't hot.  In any case, it was better without the spread, California tradition or not.  Carl's Jr./Hardee's has better sandwiches and so does Checkers/Rally's, in my opinion, of course.

I stopped at Del Taco in Kingman, Arizona a second time to get my $1.00 off from my feedback, and had fish tacos that weren't bad.  Safeway grocery store was interesting, trying to look all upscale with the dimmed lighting.  I hadn't been in one since I was a child, although they are Vons in Southern California, for whatever reason.

Had some weird contact with drivers on I-40.  Sunday night, someone with a Kia from California with a pillow where the rear view mirror would go, just wouldn't leave the passing lane.  When I went around him, he had to pass me.  It went on for a while.  Then, Monday morning through Arizona, two men in a Ford crossover from Florida passed me, pulled in front, and slowed down, causing me to change lanes.  This continued for a while.  Finally, I'd had enough and I was speeding at 90 mph for a while.  I slowed down for some construction and guess who was there?  I ended up pulling off at Gallup, New Mexico for lunch, and never saw them again, thankfully but on the way through Texas, someone pulled in front and forgot was speed he was going.  I only had the cruise control set to 76 mph, and he apparently was upset when I had to jump around him to avoid a collision.  Weird.  Then, the same kind of behaviour again.  I swear, I didn't do anything to provoke it.

I had an odd feeling about Tucumcari, New Mexico.  My parents and I had stopped there on the way to Mexico.  There was a restaurant on one side of the road and a filling station with two pumps on the other side of the road--in 1977.  It was 104 degrees F at the time and we got drinks and the ice melted immediately.  Now, they have 3 or 4 exits on I-40 and 30 restaurants, plus motels, trucks stops, etc.

Anyway, I stopped for the night in Amarillo.  I could see a storm in the distance, and I really like to see the road, or after the storm in Arkansas the other night, I like to see the hood of my car.  It was pouring like mad.

Hopefully, from Amarillo, I can make the drive home in one day, 15 hours maybe.  Hopefully, not more than that because I will have to stop.

I made it to Alma, Arkansas in about 6 hours.  I have an acquaintance there and we wanted to spend some time but didn't know about getting together because of schedules.  I ended up staying a couple of extra days and it was good to make a new friend.  It was good that I stayed the extra time, but it didn't go smoothly.

I found a Volkswagen dealer to do my free 20,000 mile maintenance in Fort Smith, AR, but there was a defective part in what was changed and I had a massive fuel leak.  I had more than half a tank with about 245 miles (half a tank is usually 300 miles), and when I got the car I thought that someone had taken a joy ride because it was somewhat below half.

The next day, they fixed the problem, but it bothered me that they didn't notice the problem before I left the dealership.  I'm not blaming anyone, but it was an oversight that cost everyone.  In the end, they did the right thing and fixed it for free, even allowing me a loaner car for a while.  They even apologized almost as much as I do, which was comforting.  However, the technician did not re-fill my tank, even to half, which is close to where it was, despite being told to do so.

I really appreciated the people in the northwest part of Arkansas.  I really didn't expect people to be so friendly.  Sure, people in restaurants and other businesses are supposed to be friendly but that never stopped anyone in Florida from being rude.  I think my only bad experience was when I walked into one of Alma, Arkansas' 4 pizza places (with a population of 4700+) and someone looked at me and laughed.  Whether she was actually laughing at me, I don't know, but it was a rare moment.

People cared and that was something unusual for me.  People in Indiana will do for you in a take-it-or-leave-it fashion, which changed a lot from the 1960s.  Even some people around Philly and New Jersey act that way, although I trust that I know how people feel at all times.  I think people in Florida, Texas, and Arizona just don't give a damn about anything.  San Jose, California seemed a very caring place and they were all friendly to me.  San Francisco wasn't quite as friendly, and Los Angeles can be downright confrontational at times.  San Diego was too sedate to be bothered.  I don't think they help anyone, not even themselves.

If I were to move today, I would hope that I could afford something near San Jose or somewhere in New Jersey not far from the coast.

Update 2015.03.11: I live in a small city in Northern California, as I couldn't afford to live in San Jose.  San Jose is one of the more expensive places in California, and in the country.  This small city is adjacent to another, smaller city, so the area has an aggregate population of around 100,000 people.

I miss the Philly and New Jersey terribly, but the weather they've experienced has confirmed that my decision to live here is a good one.

My trip here was as odd and interesting as the trip in August 2013 was, even though I took a few different paths.

One thing that always resonated with me from the song "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" was the line "LA is a great big freeway, put a hundred down a buy a car."  San Jose has some crazy freeway action, and I'm there often enough to know that it's probably still not as bad as LA from the 1960s.  Having sat on the Hollywood Freeway, inching along, I don't think there is any other place on the west coast that is quite so bad, though crossing the metro LA/OC area took around one hour, mostly sticking close to I-5.

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