The Long and Winding Road
The few people who frequent this blog might have noticed a lack of activity lately. That’s primarily because Pat and I have been on the road for most of the past three weeks. For a detailed travelogue, including pictures, you can look at Pat’s blog, Desert Sea, where he’s gradually putting up posts about the journey. I’ll just touch on highlights here.
The trip seemed to have two major themes: barbeque and detours. Just about every day, we had at least one great barbeque experience – when I travel, I want to sample the best of the local food, and we kept stumbling on great barbeque places. And just about every day, sometimes multiple times in a day, we ended up someplace we didn’t intend to be, sometimes because of road construction, sometimes because of our unfamiliarity with the territory, and sometimes because of a little of both.
Barbeque, May 2: OK, this doesn’t officially count as part of the journey, but we had lunch at JR’s Bar-B-Que in Albuquerque with the guy who was helping his buddy sell the fifth-wheel trailer we just bought, and exchanged a check for the title to the trailer.
Detour, May 2: Not a really big deal, but our favorite motel in Gallup had no non-smoking rooms available, so we had to spring for a suite.
Barbeque, May 3: Big Belly’s BBQ in Tempe, run by former ASU and KC Chiefs defensive tackle Bryan Proby, serves up massive portions of KC style barbeque. I didn’t have enough appetite for it this trip, but I’ve been told the giant potato is an experience I should have at least once in my lifetime.
Detour, May 6: This one was on purpose. On our way to the cruise on Saguaro Lake, we went to Arizona Cactus Sales to see what we might want to put into the landscaping if we buy a house in the Phoenix area – many of the properties we’ve been looking at have been bank-owned or otherwise neglected, and so the landscape is pretty much dead. We’d want to put in water-conserving landscaping, rather than recreating Scottish golf courses in the desert. We learned a lot about cacti and how to take care of them – which mostly means leaving them alone and absolutely not watering them or planting them anywhere water is likely to drain.
Barbeque, May 7: Right near our motel in Bakersfield was The Grill Hut. The menu is extremely limited (beef tri-tip or chicken breast, plus sauces and sides), but what they do, they do very well.
Detour, May 8: Trying to get from the Nimitz Freeway to Alameda Island is insane. The bridges that go to the island are not lined up with the roads the freeway exits lead to, and there’s road construction that makes things really “interesting” – such as semi-trucks turning left from an extremely narrow roadway bounded by Jersey bouncewall into another extremely narrow roadway bounded by Jersey bouncewall, during the extremely brief green-light interval of the temporary traffic light suspended from flimsy cables above the intersection, such that one truck takes three cycles of the light to complete its turn because of all of the other drivers who try to get around the behemoth and end up getting in its way, so it has to halt until they figure out that they have to back up to get out of its way. Apparently, “reverse” is not a setting that exists on the shift levers of most Californians’ cars.
Detour, May 10: Visited a friend on his boat in Marina Bay in Richmond, and then sort of got lost on the way out. Found the cheapest gas in the East Bay area, and also the mini-mart that was featured in the movie “True Crime.” Didn’t go in to see whether the potato-chip display had been moved.
Detour, May 11: Needed to do some financial transactions involving our credit union, so we used the credit-union branch-sharing network to find a participating CU in Berkeley. Google Maps got us there, but not back. We ended up taking a scenic tour of Berkeley and Oakland, including Chinatown, that we hadn’t intended.
Barbeque, May 11: We had already looked at our schedule for our time in the Bay Area and saw that the best time for us to hook up with family was Wednesday evening. My brother had the suggestion that maybe we could meet at Sam’s Bar-B-Que in San Jose, where our cousin often plays with a bluegrass band, Dark Hollow. As it turns out, the band was playing there that night, so my cousin saved us a table and we had a great time. The band played “Detour,” written by Paul Westmoreland and played by Spade Cooley, then subsequently by Patti Page and Willie Nelson, among others.
Detour, May 12: We had a coupon. We were hungry. We wanted seafood. Gerald’s Droid told us that Panama Joe’s atmosphere was “boisterous” but the noise level was “moderate.” I guess it depends what you mean by “moderate”; it was college night.
Barbeque, May 13: OK, we didn’t get to eat this, but our motel room was suffused with the aroma. We were right around the corner from the laundry room, which was also the housekeeping staff’s lunch room. Beneath the open window, they had set up a little electric grill, and the bulgogi smelled heavenly.
Barbeque, May 14: Free hot dogs and beer at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club open house. Those folks are really proud of their new elevator, which is done up inside like a fine yacht, with wood paneling and cabin sole. We’ve been told that Black Magic used to be part of the Etchells fleet there.
Detour, May 15: Sunday Brunch on the Queen Mary, followed by wandering all over the ship for several hours. We only got lost a couple of times …
Detour, May 16: Dropped Gerald off with the ASU sailing team for several days’ training at the US Sailing Center in Long Beach and made it out of the LA area with only one or two wrong turns along the way. Made it to Tempe, dropped off a couple of things and picked up a couple of things at Gerald’s apartment.
Detour, May 17: Less than an hour from home, we saw smoke rising and lots of red flashing lights up ahead. We got off the freeway onto Old Route 66 and meandered through the village of Paraje before getting back onto the freeway, which we then had all to ourselves until we got to the outskirts of Albuquerque.
Detour, May 18-20: You thought we were done traveling? Nope. First, Pat went to Los Alamos to pick up Dulce, who had been getting royal spa treatment at my folks’ house (dinner whenever she wanted it, an electric blanket to sleep on at night, and other general spoiling). Then we took the big truck (Enterprise) south to pick up the fifth-wheel trailer and learn how it works.
Detour, May 21: I had been scheduled to teach only one class during the summer term, but I was given the opportunity Friday to add another – this one on the West Side campus, where I haven’t taught before. Pat and I took a scenic drive to assess the layout of the place, and man, is it far away!
Today: No detours, but maybe some barbeque – chicken “wings” from JJ’s (they’re actually thighs, and therefore really meaty) should go well with the hockey game. Now I’m getting hungry!