California | Part One
And just like that gas was $1.00 more expensive per gallon. Welcome to California - the state that’s like that ex-boyfriend who treated you kinda crappy, spent all your money but was so good looking that you couldn't stay away.
We’ve been here just over one week and are hanging for the next few days in the San Francisco bay area. This leg of the trip has been interesting to say the least. We crossed into Cali and made our way into Palm Springs with its thousands of wind turbines. We were planning to stay a day or two in that area but it was so damn hot and dry (and quite frankly, we had just enough of the desert) that we crossed over the mountains into the cooler coastal weather and called it a night at a truck stop. Done.
The next day we skirted around Los Angeles and drove through Topanga Canyon – which was stunning, but not a great road for old Winnie. We learned a valuable California RV’ing lesson on the steep descent thru the canyon to the ocean… Without knowing any better we were holding up a long line of cars and the drivers displeasure became evident as a symphony of car horns starting ringing out from behind us. It took a second but once we realized they were all honking at us, we pulled over to let more than a dozen cars pass (there were a few hand gestures as they blew passed us). Minutes later we had to pull over again to give our burning breaks a chance to cool. Once we made it out of the canyon we were on the coast highway and passing through Mailbu, Zuma Beach and a string of other million dollar surf-side towns.
We spent one night at a nice KOA campground near Ojai. The next morning we strolled around the quaint and beautiful little town that is nestled in the valley of luscious, rolling green hills and mountains. The next night we snagged a spot at a state beach park right on the ocean (and by snagged, I mean covertly pulled in without paying and left early the next morning).
By day four we arrived in San Luis Obispo and spent our first night the in the Home Depot parking lot – the glamorous life indeed. The next day we played a show at Linaenna’s Cafe in the downtown and after the gig, meet a very nice blind fellow. He approached, introduced himself and asked who we were. I introduced myself and then Brad, the man seemed puzzled and asked who the third band member was??? Brad and I looked at each other with great pleasure because although we hadn't expected it, we had just received confirmation that our little two-piece band (complete with suitcase drums) could fool a blind man into thinking we were actually a trio... it was a mighty fine moment.
We played our next show at Santa Maria Brewing and that night we attempted to sleep on the side of a road in a busy sea-side town (where hundreds of cars were parked on the streets overnight), but at 6 am a police officer knocked on the door and told us we had to move... apparently someone complained. It was during the next few days that we quickly learned that folks in California don’t take too kindly to old Winnebagos, as they have become hideaways for homeless vagrants and meth cookers. I failed chemistry and couldn’t cook up a batch of meth if my life depended on it, but that wake-up call by the fuzz was only the first of many.
A few days off brought us to Sunday when we arrived at Sculpterra Winery in Paso Robles for a show put on by a fine gentleman named Steve Key. His events, Songwriters at Play, take place all around the San Luis Obispo area. We played under a huge oak tree to a wine loving crowd and even met some new friends, a band from Chicago called Sugar Still - they are on tour in California, living out of a Kia minivan. Monday we did another one of Steve’s events, this time at a spot in Morro Bay where we met another new friend. Steve introduced us to a lovely woman named Evlyn who was local to the coast and a huge music fan. Evlyn was gracious enough to allow us to park for the night outside her apartment complex which was right near the ocean, she even treated us to breakfast at an amazing local joint the next morning – thanks again Evlyn! Our tour has allowed us to meet many great folks and we're humbled by their kindness and generosity.
Tuesday we had a great gig at the Davenport Roadhouse and followed it up with a sweet boondock night right on the old coast highway over-looking the ocean. This parking area appeared to be an unofficial rest area outside the city limits of Santa Cruz. This spot was even host to another old Winnie, a Brave model from the very early 70’s. Not sure if she was a driver or not as the front seats were piled high with assorted crap.
Yesterday we had one goal – find Neil Young’s Broken Arrow ranch – located somewhere near a small town called La Honda, just south of the Bay area up in the hills. His 1000 acre ranch is said to boarder on the coast highway but is only accessible from some backroads. We did some googling and some mapping then found ourselves taking the Bear Gultch Road up into the mountains. After some steep climbs and tight turns the road thinned to a tight, paved path. Soon we came upon a fork in the road…. To the left was a great set of metal gates securing access to a long drive hidden by giant redwoods, complete with an intercom and lights - money. Whether it was actually his place or not, we don't know for sure... but we will forever tell ourselves these were the gates to Neil’s ranch and be very proud to have made the trek to see them. It was only after driving back out of the area that I suggested we should have left a copy of our CD at the gate, just in case… We may head back to drop one off.
Last night we slept at an interstate rest area just outside of Redwood City. Rest areas have become key to us now that we know California hates old RV’s and boondocking is not so easy… This rest area was a gong show, at least 20 cars had people sleeping and assumably living in them. We even saw a young couple who lived in a brand new Nissan Leaf – great car if you can’t afford the gas (as this model was fully electric) but not so great if you like to sleep with your legs fully extended!
So that brings us to now. We’re sitting in a nice RV park near Morgan Hill, enjoying some barley beverages and eating a tasty dinner (baked sole filets with roasted asparagus on pesto grits, just incase you were wondering). It’s nice to know that the cops won’t be waking us up in the wee hours plus we can use the wifi to get caught up with y’all and look for more shows to play once we get back to BC (holler at us if you’ve got any west coast connections).
We’ll check back in soon. We’ve got a bit more of California to see before we cross into Oregon.