Just got back (yesterday) from a 3000 drive around the west side of these United States. So, I don't forget any detail, I thought I would share it with all of you, my loyal readers.
So on the morning of August 4th, which would be the beginning of the 2 week, cross country saga which is now known as “The White's take the West Coast”, my wife decided that this exact time would be the best time to clean the entire house from top to bottom and water the lawn and plants surrounding the vast White estate. As my son and I sweated and fumed in the house waiting for the plethora of unnecessary chores to be completed, we mapped out the 3000 mile trip in our heads. This was going to be interesting.
Finally after a few hours, we were able to get on the road, Volvo wagon bulging at the seams. I literally needed a crow bar and 2 extra guys to get the doors shut. I guess my wife misunderstood when I said “Pack light, we don't have a lot of room.”
The trip from Puyallup, WA to Coos Bay, OR was fairly uneventful with beautiful weather and only a few traffic jams to speak of. Now, as a set up on this story, I would like to let you know that we chose to wing it and not really plan ahead as far as hotels went. We would just pull into a town, find a hotel and stay there...right? Hmm, not today.
We arrived at The Mill Casino which I had stayed at before and thought was a nice place to stay. As I approached the front of the hotel, I noticed approximately 150 suitcases lined up ready to be taken inside. The girl at the front desk actually laughed at me when I asked if they had any rooms available for the night. As I drove from hotel to hotel, I found out that there was a baseball tournament, 3 weddings, and a marathon scheduled for the weekend, clogging every hotel in town. Except for Motel 6 which was my last stop prior to moving on to the next town. I got the last room in Coos Bay.
Now, I'm really not picky when I go traveling and just need a place to stay, but this place was a shithole. There were two homeless crack heads hanging around in the parking lot in front of the lobby and, when we went to the room we were sized up by a dude who looked like he was accepting applications from the guests to be his next victim. The room had the smell of the smoke of a million cigarettes and was so small that my son could touch opposite walls in the room.
On to August 5th. We woke up early and ran before the scabies could work their way any deeper into our bodies and headed out to Ukiah, CA. Other than the fact that every single person in California must have a Can Am Spyder our trip was very uneventful and smooth. I swear to God, I saw 8000 of those stupid looking things in 250 miles. I couldn't believe it.
We arrived at a nice hotel and took off almost immediately in search of food. We were steered towards a restaurant called “The Broiler” which was located on a dirt road about 20 miles from the hotel. It was worth the drive. The food was awesome. Which also reminded me of multiple instances where the advise “Eat where the locals eat.” guided me towards another fantastic meal. Ate too much, went back to the hotel and crashed.
Left fully refreshed and ready to get some miles under our belts. On to San Francisco...
Arrived the evening of the 6th and total traffic and downtown chaos. What a pain in the ass. After our first family argument (2 days, not too bad!) We arrived at a Holiday Inn in the center of town with a nice view and a light wallet.
Although we had driven most of the day, we got an early start and arrived in San Francisco pretty early in the day so the wife and I decided to walk to Chinatown for fun. I guess the map I had wasn't to scale. 57 miles later, we arrived in the center of the famous San Francisco Chinatown. Oh good, more walking!
After walking around for a couple of hours, we decided that we had enough fun, and spent enough money on souvenirs to head back. I said “Hey, lets see if we can take a cable car somewhere near the hotel. That should save us some walking.” Damn thing took us to within 50 yards of the front door of the hotel...nice. Oh well, live and learn.
The next morning, we decided to go down to the San Francisco pier and take a bus tour of the city. Good idea right? Until we found a cab driver to take us down there. During the 10 minute ride I was too scared to take pictures, and I think I shit my pants. Don't get me wrong, I like to drive fast, but this dude had a license to kill. He drove over every square inch of the road and sidewalk to get us to our destination in as little time as possible. As the car skidded to a smokey halt, we ran as fast as we could to get away before the creaky Ford Focus took it's own life and blew up. Then, in a flash, he was gone, off on his apparent mission to scare the crap out of as many tourists as possible in a 24 hour period.
At least the bus tour was nice and slow. We took the tour of the city and the surrounding area, walked around the pier, had a great seafood feast, and took a leisurely cab ride back to the hotel. A little later we decided to go get some ice cream at the diner around the corner. Now I've don't make a habit of eating a 3 pound banana split and then going on a brisk walk. I wouldn't recommend it. The city of San Francisco almost got it's ice cream back that day.
Got into LA later in the evening of the 8th and checked into the first hotel I've ever been in where not one single non-Hispanic person worked. No Blacks, Whites, Asians, nothing, all Hispanic. I could care less, just kind of weird. Decent little hotel near LAX with a view of Inglewood. However, it had the shittiest elevators on the face of the planet. Slow, dirty, and smelly can only partially describe the horror of these moving death boxes. What an adventure.
Went across the street to the Hampton in and felt very under dressed sitting there eating my perfect steak. I guess I should have packed a suit for the trip.
Stayed in L.A. The next day and went down to Hollywood Blvd. To do some sight seeing. As we arrived, we were literally accosted by men and women trying to sell tourists like ourselves tours of the stars homes. I think the companies would do a little better, if they hired people who had a chance to go home and take a shower after escaping prison, rather than going straight to work. Talk about night of the fucked up dead.
Did the Grauman's Chinese Theater thing and then went down to the Santa Monica Pier for a walk around. Weather was fantastic, pier was packed, had a great time. The only thing that struck me as a little strange was that the place had bums sleeping around like they were placed on a cake by some giant decorator in the sky. I can hear it now. “O.K. One goes there, one goes there. Now don't place them too close, make sure they are evenly spaced.” weird.
As we arrived in Barstow, CA the temp peaked at around 117. That was right around the time my wife decided that it would be the perfect time to go shopping for clothes at the outlet mall. She came out with a winter vest.
Ate lunch at Bob's Big Boy. I haven't been there in years. Ordered the “Best Cheeseburger on the planet” Well, I don't know about that, but it was pretty fucking good. By the time I was done, I felt like I gave birth. That thing should come with a raincoat. I found out that I still had burger juice on my elbow a half an hour after we left.
Secured a sweet room at the luxurious Luxor Hotel on the 22nd floor. Ate at the buffet for dinner. The food was shitty, but at least there was a lot of it. Had dinner and made an early night of it.
The next morning we walked around Vegas in the 100 plus heat, and tried to stay cool. I guess only jackasses and tourists go out in the heat, because we fell into both categories. Made our way to Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville restaurant and had a kick ass Cuban sandwich and an icy girly drink. I don't care, it was pretty freakin' good.
Then the family and I went back to the room to clean up and change, went out to another place in the casino that served great steaks and salmon. Had some more drinks, then off to gamble for a while. Yes, my 16 year old stayed in the room. My wife made it about 45 minutes until she won $110 and decided to quit.
I made it a little longer. Hey, free drinks if you are playing. I stayed with the slots and won $90 myself. In total, I spent about 4 and a half hours, drank a bunch of drinks and ended up losing zero dollars. If I didn't pay for that last drink, I would have left with an additional $10 as well. Pretty good.
On the morning of the 12th, we began our trip back up north to Washington by way of Salt Lake City and Boise, ID. After a hectic breakfast at IHOP, We hit the road. Me in a hungover haze.
My son drove about halfway to Salt Lake and, except for a collision with a tumbleweed, we arrived in the land of the Mormon sun without incident.
We found a nearby Bar and Grill to have dinner and went inside. As we sat in the bar waiting to order our food, I realized that my son has been in bars and casinos for almost this entire trip. I hope no one has Child Protective Services on speed dial!
Monday morning we hit the road again on our way to Boise, ID. Nothing really exciting. Lots of road.
We stopped at the gas station and decided to have some lunch. I guess the midget girl (sorry, little person) behind the counter hadn't seen to many big city folks like us, because she seemed a little nervous when she asked us if we wanted fries or tots with our burgers. More likely, after a week and a half on the road, we might have looked like we brought our son in to help us rob the place.
We went through Boise, ID and decided to move on a little and drive a bit extra to Ontario, OR to cut down on the final drive back home. We found a hotel, and also found out, that for $10 more, they will upgrade you from a standard room, to a kick ass suite.
We were referred to a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that looked like they were 1 egg roll away from closing their doors. They had great food and cheap prices. Of course we all ate too much and needed to lay down, so we went back to the hotel, got a good nights sleep and left first thing in the morning for the last day of driving for our grand adventure.
On the way home, we saw the Snake river, Shoshone falls, and a huge forest fire, which, according to the interweb, was one of 65 in the Washington to California, to Washington loop we just made. I guess that's why everywhere we drove was kind of hazy.
Well, we made it home safe and sound. We went through Washington 2X, Oregon 2X, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. We didn't kill each other, The old Volvo didn't split open like a pinata with the addition of 193 pounds of souvenirs. It ran like a champ and got us home safe.
I still feel like I was on the receiving end of a 3 day ass kicking, but we all had a great time.