Back on the road and a small brush with the law...
Trip Start Apr 13, 2010
44Trip End Oct 13, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We packed up and headed out to take our impressive four hour detour around Los Angeles, all just to minimise our time spent on the freeways (which we have discovered can be anywhere from two lanes to eight lanes wide in each direction!!).
We only got truly lost once, after a slight miscalculation on the part of the GPS which saw us driving a few circles around Newport Beach, then finally figuring out where we'd gone wrong and getting back on the highway headed south (even though we were aiming to stay north of LA that night.. we did say it was a four hour detour...)
Cait took on her first freeway, and drove spectacularly well and much like a local
Daylight was starting to run out when we finally found a campground at a place called Mt Pinos, just north of LA. We proudly set up our campsite for the first time, and didn't even struggle too much with the tent. After another yummy salad, we realised the biggest issue was the lack of batteries to operate the air pump which would be necessary to inflate our brand new mattress. Oops...
Fortunately the camp host came to our rescue, as he introduced himself on his way to the shop 20 mins down the road and asked if there was anything we needed. Happily, a little while later we had the batteries we needed (though by that stage had already made ourselves dizzy by blowing it up manually, quite an accomplishment given it was queen size!)
The nearby campers reassured us that there were no bears in the area, and even sent their young boys over to offer to build us a campfire since we'd arrived late and didn't have one. Thanking them we declined the offer and headed for bed - our first night in the tent, and at 8000 feet no less.
After a patchy night's sleep we packed up camp, bid farewell to the fragrant longdrops and were back on the road headed north east
We drove a little while on the road before coming to a slightly confusing intersection, we paused for the stop sign, were rather flustered about a flashing red light and were looking for somewhere to pull over to ask where to go. From the point of view of the policewoman in the security checkpoint, a bright red impala shot straight through her stop sign into the base, pulled over then sat there waiting. Its no wonder she came flying out, then paused waiting for our next move. Thankfully, armed with a map and a look of total confusion each, we were able to use our Australian accents and a little serve of ditzyness to talk our way out of trouble, and she ended up sending us on with directions to a nearby campground. She did, however, give us the parting gift of a stern and slightly sarcastic warning that the flashing red lights and the big red sign with the letters S T O P meant that generally you should stop
We continued on through the army base (had a minor encounter with a suicidal squipmunk, so called because we cant work out it its a squirrel or a chipmunk and this covers both options) and eventually found our campsite. With our camp set up, we settled in for a relaxed afternoon with music, our first campfire, more salad and a cool drink. (see how healthy we're being, more salad!)
After a not so healthy breakfast of a handful of pringles each (having forgotten to pick up anything for breakfast) we decided we must be starting to smell pretty bad what with staying in campgrounds that had no shower facilities. We attempted to rectify this by washing our hair, though having smelt the water coming from the tap we opted to use up our fresh water supply from the boot of the car.
Feeling remotely fresher we once again hit the road, and wound our way down through to the coast highway which would take us up to San Jose. Biggest problem at this point was our almost empty petrol tank, and the GPS telling us that it was quite a way to the next petrol station. We have now resolved to carry spare fuel with us, particularly when we hit the southern states.
We finally made it to San Jose (whilst listening to a very appropriate song asking us if we knew the way to said city), found the Motel 6 and scored a cheap rate thanks to our failed internet booking
After a slight accident on the freeway that saw us headed the wrong direction, we corrected the mistake and found our way to the Winchester Mystery House. An intriguing location, full of stories of vengeful spirits and continuous building works. Our guide for the tour of the mansion was a little too chipper for our liking, a good description of him is that of a gerbil on speed. He managed to insult our accents and country about 7 times in the first 5 minutes, and picked on Mel simply for being tall (every tall person loves the jokes about hitting their heads, and being good body guards etc...)
The house itself was great, with doors that opened to solid walls, staircases leading to the ceiling, windows in the floor, and a chimney that goes up four floors and stops a foot before it reaches the ceiling. The kind of house that would be fun to live in, and easy to get lost in. Sadly no ghosts to report though.
After the tour, we hotfooted it out of San Jose, tackled more freeways, a toll bridge, and drove the Chevy to the Levee :) Literally. (It wasn't dry)
Another Motel 6 that night, a quick and very cheap meal which left us rather confused about whether chicken fried steak is in fact chicken or steak (apparently steak), and the fact that an appetiser is an entree and an entree is a main
We awoke refreshed, and left Lodi behind as we headed out through the back roads to Placerville, to stay in a reputedly haunted hotel. We found it, checked in, amused the guy in reception with our bumbling speech then decided to go in search of food. Across the street was the best named diner ever. Mel's Diner. We just had to try it out, and it was there that we finally realised that portion sizes are enough to fill up a hungry moose. Still, the food was good... how could it not be in a place called Mel's?
We tested out the little seedy-looking bar across the road, had a good chat to a man who used to drive 18 wheelers in the ice and snow in Alaska (he had an amazing story to tell), then retired to the hostel to see what would happen in the way of hauntings. Not surprisingly, not much.
We both had moments where we wigged out in the hallway, but thats because it looked like it belonged in 'the Shining' and we were expecting at any moment to see small girls riding bicycles down the corridor.
We had a pleasant sleep that night, and awoke to find that nothing had been disturbed at all in our room, very disappointing. Cait had a minor incident with something biting her when she put on her jeans, and we found a few mysterious pennies in the bathroom. From this we can see how many ghost stories start - something attacked Cait and we had apporting pennies!!!! (which actually does match up with a previous story from the hotel, although one would assume that while Cait was trying to figure out what bit her, pennies fell out of her pocket. Choose the story you like best!)
We took the scenic route that day and drove up through some mountain passes to Lake Tahoe (stopping at Bones Diner on the way where we had one last go at giant burgers).
Tahoe is another story all in itself... and it involves bears....