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Exodus in a Tin Can on Wheels


Part 3
(Part 1 - Part 2 - Epilogue))

October 1 -- Beaver Creek RV Park, Cobb CA. Not a bad place. Full hookups, Dish is working fine. Biggest problem is that our Verizon cell phones don't work. Which means no internet, either. And the mountain is pretty far from everything else.

Remains to be seen whether we'll be here more than a week. TaoUrso used to live around Lake County years ago, and knows he'll like it. Me, I'm still mostly undecided.

October 2 -- Sitting alone in the Clearlake Masonic Lodge dining area while TaoUrso is in meeting. Met a few local Masons at dinner tonight. Mostly TaoUrso's age, but the politics of a couple of them are - ugh. I was pretty quiet with them as they talked to TaoUrso.

Still looking for another RV park in the area. Found a couple by the lake - pretty, but too many trees on the sites, Dish would never work. Also, the cell phone still won't operate. Keeps moving in and out of range.

Temperatures are dropping a bit. I woke up cold this morning. Fortunately our heater is working okay. Plan to look for more sites in Lakeport tomorrow.

What else? TaoUrso checked in with the local Veterans' Administration office. Wants to find a VA doctor to treat him.

October 8 -- Trombetta's Resort in Clearlake, California. Moved here Sunday from Beaver Creek; we'd found it the day before. Plan to lease this space at least thru next May, put three months down already ($250/mo. plus electric. There's also metered propane which we haven't used yet.) I shudder to think what our credit card balance is now.

Good location near the lake itself - TaoUrso wants to fish here. (I have reservations about that myself.) Not as nice a view though. See nothing out the window but closely-packed trailers and mobile homes. But it's more convenient, near Wal-Mart and TaoUrso's Masonic lodge. And the temps are a bit higher than on the mountain.

TaoUrso says the area has changed a little, but he still likes it. Yesterday we got ourselves a P.O. box in Lower Lake. Getting a Pacific Bell phone line tomorrow. I guess we'll eventually get CA drivers licenses and regs.

Started setting up with local doctors too. Today I had X-rays taken of my right knee, which is still hurting like hell. Cell phones are now working better. A guy at Radio Shack showed us how to switch the phones to "analog" in places Verizon doesn't serve.

Lake County so far seems a good place to live. People are nice enough. But there doesn't seem much around here to occupy the time. Well, maybe that will change.

October 14 -- Been at Trombetta's in Clear Lake one week now. Today we brought the RV in for fluid and filter change.

What's it like? Well, the weather takes some getting used to. Wake up cold in the morning. Gets very warm in afternoon. After sunset (around 7 PM) the temperature drops pretty fast.

Still waiting for results of knee X-ray taken last week.

Have seen no rain since coming to CA. Grass is all brown and dry. On our site are dried-out plants that drop hundreds of sharp little burrs, some of which we end up tracking indoors. OW!!

Onyx is getting acclimated to life here. We've let him out a few times. I was worried at first, but he always comes back in the evening to eat.

Saturday, took a long drive to Berkeley, which is further away than I thought. I bought a bunch of tie-dyed shirts on Telegraph Ave. Guess I'm set clothes-wise for a while. If it gets cold, I can always wear a sweatshirt underneath.

October 19 -- Been having fun these last few days. Thursday we drove to Point Arena light-house, several hours north of Lake County. The road took us thru Mendocino County - lots of hills, lots of curves, more than a little fog, first moisture in the air I've felt in weeks. Once again we found ourselves on CA Hwy. 1, snaking up the Pacific coastline. Not much to see off Point Arena. Still, looking out over the sea reminded me how far West I've come in three months. Mendocino looks real nice, the road dotted w/numerous little wineries. Must come thru here again over the winter. Tomorrow is our last day in Clear Lake for a while. Then we head south.

Lighthouse seen on a separate visit after we settled in Clearlake

October 23 -- Desert Tortoise Natural Area. Lots of semi-arid desert, but no tortoises or any wildlife to speak of, except for some ants. Mojave Desert reminds me of the sandlot behind my Grandma's house before it was developed - the lot, that is - only many times bigger.

October 25 -- Lake Havasu City, Arizona, second day. Took TaoUrso's family out to dinner. I got really sick on Red Robin's Oriental Chicken Salad. Lake Havasu is still warm this time of year, but not as unbearable as in summer. Can't fathom the need for long sleeves and jackets like I saw Tao's son and his wife were wearing. Not all deserts are this way. Spent a couple days is Mojave, CA this week, and the nights were pretty cool.

San Joachin was a stop on the way back
from Lake Havasu

In southern California - what I've seen of it - there's a colossal effort to turn a wasteland into something else. You have big orchards on semi-arid land, watered by irrigation ditches. Grass growing in unnatural places. Lots of Joshua trees grow here, twisted, like space aliens, daring you to cross into their territory.

I could never live in Lake Havasu full-time. I'd never get used to the strangeness of gravel "lawns" and the dry heaviness of the air. There is a prefab look to the city, right down to the man-made lake and imported London Bridge, that makes me uneasy.

Nonetheless, a lot of people - like Sue - apparently want to live here. One more thing: People in Lake Havasu have this penchant for stringing up lights, regardless of season. I see them on a lot of homes and businesses.

October 26 - The Ironic Weather God is at work again. First rain I've seen in weeks, and wouldn't ya know it happens here, in Lake Havasu City - one of the driest places I know. Rained off and on today, heavy at times but not enough to dampen the annual London Bridge parade. I sat thru it with TaoUrso's family, but got pretty bored - just a lot of second-rate floats, high school bands, marching clubs with banners and politicians. I found myself entering a major time warp - this is the same crap I always saw in Norwich, growing up. A couple of decidedly Christian entries in the parade. One float even had a Bible verse: "No one comes to the father but thru me." Try that in NYC and you'd get yer nuts ripped off!

TaoUrso and his son found one of the RV airbags deflating. Don't know what he plans to do for that yet.

One more day in Arizona, then we head back to California.

October 29 -- Mountain View RV Park, Desert Hot Springs CA. TaoUrso and I are here for the waters ;^). Nice warm pool with a hot whirlpool nearby.

Shit, this is hard to write, and I was hoping I'd never have to write it this way. Onyx is no longer with us. He stepped out of the motor home Saturday [10/26], and never came back. Normally he's back by evening for food, but when he didn't show Sunday morning, I figured that was the end. I keep thinking of him lost in the desert somewhere, dead or worse, and I've done more than my share of crying. I know Onyx was old and failing a bit, but I hadn't expected it to end like this. Thirteen years he'd been in my life - almost as long as TaoUrso. Wherever he is, I can only hope he's at ease.

But I wasn't cat-less for long. Today we went to the "Save a Pet" shelter around here. They directed us to a nearby Petsmart store where they send some of their cats. TaoUrso kept talking about getting two, and there we found two in the same cage. One of them, Sonia, seriously drew blood from TaoUrso's hand when he tried to hold her. The other, Cody, was more docile but still nervous. Despite his injury, TaoUrso wanted to adopt them. They're well into adulthood, he said, and not likely to go to anyone else. So we spent 90 dollars and listened to them both cry from their boxes all the way home. Sonia immediately ran to the bedroom and hid in a corner. Cody is hiding too, gods know where. They have to come out sometime.

Elsewhere: Sunday was our last day in Lake Havasu. TaoUrso and I took his son to the cemetery where his grandmother and her husband are. They did some talking, I stayed off at a distance - feeling bad enough already.

Today we drove thru Joshua Tree National Park. Big desert area full of - what else? Joshua trees. For sometime I'd been wondering what they reminded me of. Now I know: with their upraised limbs and spiky leaves, it's the futhark rune algiz. No wonder they look vaguely menacing to me.

November 1 -- Ramona, CA, near San Diego. Left Desert Hot Springs this morning. The two cats are still in hiding. Sonia still hisses at me for staring at her too long. TaoUrso tells me to be patient, but ...

Last night was Samhain. I burned two votives for Onyx and Marbles, offered each a little Pounce [a cat treat] with some catnip sprinkled in. TaoUrso says he's seen Onyx around indoors, so he's convinced he's dead. Good enough for me. Am not feeling too good about either new cat right now. Just tried picking up Cody to brush him, and he clawed the shit out of both my arms! Can't write any more. I'm too badly cut up, and pissed off.

November 4 -- Last day in Ramona. Heading north tomorrow. Saturday we went to the Wild Animal Park, and Sunday to the "World Famous" San Diego Zoo. Liked them both. Animals get a lot more space here than, say, in the Bronx [Zoo], and everything looks cleaner overall. Got a chance to see Hua Mei the Giant Panda, before she's shipped off to China. She just sat with her back to me, eating bamboo - which I understand takes up much of a panda's time. Also enjoyed seeing the bears and meerkats. Got to watch some gorillas before I left, but they all looked so bored, as all captive gorillas appear to me. The bonobos, on the other hand, seemed to be having fun. (Too bad they're such an endangered species - I hear people eat them! Bad.) As for our own critters: They continue to hide under the furniture, coming out at night to eat and poo. (At least they know where to do that.) I've resigned myself to living with two invisible cats for the time being.

Panda in San Diego Zoo

Been making fair use of the pool and Jacuzzi in this park. But not as nice as those in Desert Hot Springs.

November 6 -- Saw the Queen Mary, docked and converted into a hotel/museum in Long Beach. The ship is big and ornately decorated. One of its lounge/ballrooms reminded me of my old high school auditorium. On the tour I took, we saw a luxury suite on the first class deck. The bedroom alone is what you'd find today in the average Comfort Inn. Plus a living room and small kitchen. In the old days, guests had a choice of either fresh or salt water for the bath (apparently salt water was considered therapeutic.) But I had to laugh a bit when I saw the toilet paper folded into a neat corner on the roll. Of course I did that myself working at the Cambridge Hyatt-Regency, a lifetime (or at least a generation) ago. Queen Mary also has a radio room - which TaoUrso found, natch. From the amateur radio operator who ran the place, he learned of a "Ham Radio Outlet" in Anaheim, not far from where we're staying. Drove there this afternoon and bought TaoUrso a new ham rig.

On the downside: Yesterday was Election Day - first election I'd failed to vote in since 1980. (Then as now, I was in transit.) GOP's took over the Senate, meaning they control all three houses in Washington now. Pisser Deluxe!

November 7 -- Unexpected delay in our trip back north. This morning we were caught in heavy traffic on I-5 near Los Angeles, when the RV's brakes stopped working. Stuck on the freeway, unable to move. Called Good Sam, but they couldn't get a tow soon enough. State trooper ordered us off the road, and got a flatbed truck to tow the RV. It cost us nearly $400. just to get us to this place, "S&J Chevy" in Cerito. One rotor is in pieces, the other is badly rusted, the mechanic tells us. I don't expect to be out of here till 5PM, when it already starts getting dark. Have no idea where we'll be spending the night. It's like Indian Springs, NV all over again. Looking to be set back another $3000 before it's over. :^( Found a AAA, got maps and registered for California membership.

Not a fun time today; TaoUrso and I have been snapping at each other constantly. As usual, he blames me for everything gone wrong.

November 8 -- Sand & Surf RV Camp, Pismo Beach. Hardly beach weather, though - been raining hard off and on since yesterday.

Got the RV brakes fixed, finally, around 5PM. Over 2500 *!@&% dollars!!! (That includes $384. just for the towing.) TaoUrso has decided once we get back to Clearlake, we'll be staying for a while, at least till some bills are paid off. OK by me. Anyway, our trip was delayed one day. TaoUrso, having napped, decided to drive the motorhome at least part-way here. So we set off on one of our most, ah, challenging drives ever. TaoUrso had never driven at night before, but wanted to see if he could. Also, it was rush hour in L.A., in the middle of a heavy rain. We spent over an hour crawling up I-405 before we got on US 101 and out of the city. Drove as far as Ventura, where we found an RV camp with a vacancy. By 9 PM, I would have been happy just to park in a big lot for the night, but TaoUrso preferred the security. So ended, comfortably, one of the most frustrating days since our travels began.

TaoUrso keeps reminding me how lucky we were to be stuck in slow traffic when the brakes went. Gods know what shape we'd be in if we'd been doing, say, 60 mph. I heard we were on the news too - reports that our vehicle had backed up traffic for ten miles on I-5.

Ate some very good Alaskan cod w/chips at a diner here today. Forget the exact name, Chicago something. Also ordered for the first time, nuggets of fried mac-&-cheese. Not bad, but definitely not good for one.

November 10 -- RV park in Scotts Valley, near Santa Cruz. Not a bad day today, except it rained like hell and we stayed away from the beach. But I did eat bagels and lox at the "Bagelry" this morning - first time in that little spot since '96.

As we drove around Santa Cruz, I spotted an art-house theater that was showing Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, the only movie I'm at all interested in seeing these days. People sitting behind me were laughing a lot, and there was much applause at the end. But showing BfC in a town like Santa Cruz, is preaching to the converted. In Clearlake, say, it would not be so well appreciated.

Picked up a few things at a Walgreen's today, where I spotted a lot of Christmas stuff on the shelves, but not a single menorah in sight! Is that unreal or what? Arrived here yesterday and drove to another town - Collusa? - where there are a lot of over-priced gifts and surfing paraphernalia. Amazingly, TaoUrso remembered an occult store, "Avalon Vision," that we hadn't visited in years. He bought a chalice he wants to use for Jewish services. I got a small goddess figure to add to my "portable altar" collection.

Something I forgot to mention: when we drove to Ventura the other night, the RV passenger-side mirror hit an oversized truck parked on the shoulder, and the mirror flew clean off. Ouch! Managed to replace it in the Pismo Beach camp.

November 14 -- Back in Trombetta's RV Resort, Clearlake CA - my "home" for the foreseeable future. (I know, Strunk and White hate that cliche, but WTF?) Got back to Lake County two days ago. As if fate decided to mock us one last time, the RV engine started backfiring on US 101 after we left Petaluma. Pulled over in Ukaiah, about 60 miles from here, where the mechanic replaced the gas filter, and we ran smoothly after that. (Remember, the same thing happened July in Illinois.) Yesterday we pulled out the awnings and got the house more level. Today the gas company is supposed to hook up our propane.

Got lots of mail to sort.

To Be Continued....

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