the end of the road
Cam had put us in touch with a friend of his who lives in the woods just north of Santa Cruz in a secluded house where he had grown up. We thought we’d just clean up and pass out, but by the time we had unpacked the car and reorganized our stuff for the forthcoming flight back to the East Coast, our host had brought back a massive sushi order and several other people showed up at the house. Even though we had only slept a couple of hours the night before, we stayed up late into the night.
The next day — our last in California — we drove up to San Francisco. S caught up again with Amira while D made a quick stop at Amoeba Records. A decade ago — when D last visited San Francisco — Amoeba seemed like a mecca: a giant music warehouse that traded almost exclusively in used and resold music. He was very much looking forward to going back, but the visit felt underwhelming. The trend towards digital music media had taken its toll in the intervening years and D struggled to find CDs that interested him. After flipping through about a hundred copies of the same Sting, Tori Amos, and Seal albums, D was forced to call it quits.
We covered a lot of ground during our three weeks in California:
- 2701 — The miles we put on the car could have almost gotten us all the way back to the East Coast had we driven cross-country. Our rental car barely made it — towards the end of the trip, the ‘change oil,’ ‘low tire pressure,’ and ‘low gas’ indicator lights were all on at the same time.
- $5.15 — Though we avoided filling up in Gorda, where gas was close to $7 a gallon, we were forced to put a couple of gallons into our car in Big Sur at $5.15/gallon. In the Central Valley, we paid almost two dollars less.
- 5408 — We have yet to begin sorting through the pictures we took on our home leave, which should keep us reliving this trip for many more months to come.
- 9,100 feet — Gem Lake is the highest point to which we hiked. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest point we visited.
- 109 — After a full morning of touring around Death Valley, seeing the temperature dial hit 109°F nearly made us wilt. On either side of our visit to Death Valley, we camped high up in the Sierra Nevada, where the temperature was in the 40’s at night.
- 10 — Not counting the night we slept in our car, the number of different houses, hotels, and campsites where we spent the night. Not only did we see and do a whole lot of awesome, but we also caught up with many of our West Coast friends and made several new ones, who graciously hosted us in their homes.
We were a little sad to leave the road, but thankful that we were only midway through our travels. The flight from San Francisco to DC was only the fourth of twelve we would take on our home leave.