Exodus in a Tin Can on Wheels
(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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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"
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....