Friday, February 29, 2008 -- Los Banos, CA
We got out of Pomona and the LA Megaplex without much trouble this morning. It's amazing, but all those motorhomes seemed to evaporate as the morning wore on without lines or hassle or raised tempers. I don't get it... you'd think an orderly planned departure would be more efficient and faster than leaving it to randomness and independence and chance. But it seemed like the exact opposite happened. On the way into the fairgrounds last Saturday and Sunday, there was order... go in this gate, turn left, follow the yellow line to row I-4, and follow directions from the parking team -- and it took two days to get everyone parked. But on the way out today we could leave whenever we wanted, we could go out of any gate we wanted, could turn onto any road in any direction and I didn't see anyone directing traffic. Things went faster and smoother without planned order. Could this be a concept to apply to my, or anyone's, life? Don't plan things... just let 'em happen... and it'll all work out better? At any rate we were out of the fairplex and on our way north by a little after 10am.
Here, in California, we refer to major roads differently than you do in the rest of the country. In Wisconsin, or Missouri, or just about anywhere else in the USA, Interstate Highways are referred to in the same manner as they've been named by the government -- I-90, for example, is used this way in both written and verbal communication: "I took I-90 to Milwaukee". Seems simple, doesn't it. But that's not the way it's done by those of us in California. No sir! Here, in the Golden State, we say things like this: "Like, I took the ten and like hooked up with the two ten..." Allow me to translate for you: "the ten" means I-10; "the two ten" refers to I-210. I know you rubes in the rest of the country are wrinkling your brow and wondering why someone would talk that way. Hey, this is California. Just wait a few years and you'll be talking just like us.
So, that's how we got out'a town... we took the ten to the two ten which eventually hooks up with the five. After some hours and about 300 miles we landed tonight at a Walmart parking lot in Los Banos, CA. We had a number of things to celebrate tonight... "hook day", the day we change major direction and stopped heading primarily west and started heading mostly north. We made the official hook near Pasadena. The second big thing we celebrated is our first night in a Walmart parking lot. Some of you may know that Walmart is a prized place to park for free when just passing through. When all you need is a place to park and sleep, why pay RV Park fees for tennis courts, swimming pools, club houses and full-hookups when all I want is a place to park and sleep. So Walmart has developed quite a reputation among RVers as a place to rest overnight for no-charge. In the same way a guy couldn't be considered a real man-about-town until he spent the night with Betty Lou, we couldn't be considered true fulltimers until we've stayed overnight at Walmart.
On another note: California has some of the worst major roads in the country, at least the part of the country we've experienced so far. We drove 300 miles today and it feels like we drove twice that. These roads are rough, caving in, collapsing, falling apart, and laced with pot holes. We heard at a truckstop today that just last week a fully loaded 18 wheeler drove into one of the larger pot holes and hasn't been seen since. Well, you say, they should start rebuilding those roads so the happy motoring public will continue to buy that $4 per gallon gas and the economy will continue to percolate along. But there's a problem with that... the state of California is broke, it has no money. Not only don't they have any money, they've borrowed against their kids future taxes and their grandkids future taxes. They've probably borrowed against MY future taxes and I don't even know that they're planning to tax me. They're technically bankrupt. I don't know how it'll be possible to ever find the money to rebuild all the roads in that huge state. My advice if you value your good front-end alignment... stay away.
On a much sadder note we heard today about the death of Dave Baleria, a fulltimer and an instructor, with his wife Sandy, of a number of seminars at the Life on Wheels conferences we've attended in the past. We talked with Dave and Sandy only a couple weeks ago in Casa Grande, AZ during the Gypsy Gathering Rally, where they did a few seminars on personal safety and the RV lifestyle. I don't know for sure, but Dave was probably about our age, perhaps a bit younger. The news shocked and saddened us, as it did thousands of others who knew him. Here's a link to a blog post from Nick Russell, the editor of the Gypsy Journal Newspaper. Go to the post for February 29th. It's shocking things like this that help us see the value of life and the spirit of enjoying life each and every day.