California Scheming Part 2
Part 2 –California Scheming
This car was as powerful as a locomotive, one from 200 years ago that was rusted on a siding somewhere. I turned the key and it sounded like my Waring Blender with a load of ice cubes in it. It fired up, I put it in gear and had to cram the accelerator to the floor to get the thing rolling. Four cylinders in a Porche is one thing, even a VW, but this eco-friendly sewing machine was a joke. For someone with a lead foot and plenty of horsepower back home to accommodate it, this was a skateboard with a hamster on a conveyor belt. I did make it to Blaine’s safe and sound, but it took a heavy pedal to get it to highway speed on the 405 and 101.
I pulled into Blaine’s secret hide-a-way just as my phone rang. It was Blaine. “Where are you?” he asked. “In your driveway,” I told him. “No,” he replied. “Yes, I’m looking at your red Corvette right now. With that the garage door magically opened and there was Blaine standing in his kitchen door. I left the Mirage smoking in the driveway after its excursion from LAX, and went to greet my friend of almost 50 years.
Change of Plans
I left the planning to Blaine. It was his town, his state and I trusted his judgment to arrange for some special treats along the way to the Redwoods, my only request. He booked rooms halfway up the coast at Moro Beach, and then the final trek up the PCH (Californian for Pacific Coast Highway) to Monterey and Pacific Grove, the lair of the might redwoods. Now for those of you East Coasters, who have never been to the Left Coast as they prefer to be called, the PCH is Highway 1. Very much like Highway 1 on the East Coast or A1A, it hugs the coast with magnificent views of the other ocean, the giant Pacific. And though A1A sports some rather frightening passages such as 7-mile bridge which takes you from small Key to Key (tiny islands) some the size of a baseball diamond, surrounded on both sides and below with some of the greenest water this side of a Lime-filled Marguerita, the Left Coast version of scary is a narrow two-lane road with a huge cliff rising up to the driver’s right, and another even huger cliff sinking down, down, down to the water’s edge several hundred feet below. Oh, and unlike all those litigious sissy pants on the East Coast that insist on steel guard rails at every turn, there ARE no guard rails on the PCH. No, if you haven’t the common sense to stay the hell away from the edge, then good riddance, and no chance of you adding your DNA to the gene pool you dumbass, no your butt will in the icy cold Pacific Pool after careening down the cliff face, smashing head first into one of those huge rocks that line the shore, and then plunkity plunk plunk you’re in the drink.
Just what the doctor ordered for a pair of geriatric old fools looking for some adventure. I made this trek some 45 years ago when I was much younger and much less risk averse, I had my 280-Z and pedal to the medal was passing cars on this two-lane highway heading South which placed the edge of the cliff to my immediate right. At one stop I asked if anyone every went over the edge. Wrong question. His answer, “A few every week.”
Still I wanted to see the Redwoods, so we had the itinerary in place. We would spend the first few days, Saturday through Monday checking out some of the local sites, and then head north on Tuesday. Reservations were in place and everything ready to go except for one thing. The Child. The Christ Child. What the hell does HE have to do with anything other than be the likely name I would call out as the car careened off the cliff face, “JESUS CHRIST!!!!” No. The Spanish word for The Child, THE Child, is El Nino. Many people who follow the daily weather reports have heard about El Nino, that pool of warm water that lurks just off the Southern tip of California. Now, some years it is but a small pool, while other years somewhat larger, and with all this nonsense about Global Warming, well THIS year’s El Nino is one of the largest on record.
Now California is essentially a desert. Were it not for the Imperial Valley and the Colorado River, Los Angeles would be a dry spot along the road to nowhere, but thanks to the politicians in the 1920’s, they brought some of that Colorado River Water to LA via the Aqueduct, thanks to Mr. Mulholland. Still, with no rain and reservoirs shrinking by the day in the desert heat folks gave up their front lawns and bushes and shrubs for desert scapes and rock gardens filled with mulch. That is until El Nino decided to unleash some of the warmest water and with it the wettest clouds seen in four years. Not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR storms were heading to California during the first week of the new year. Batten down the hatches folks were told, get ready for flash floods, and rock slides, and mudslides galore.
As adventuresome as Blaine and I might appear, we both graduated from Virginia Tech, and had an equal balance of book learning and common sense. As such we agreed to watch the weather, and were willing to change plans as the weather Gods spoke. By Monday we cancelled Moro Bay, and by Wednesday Pacific Grove was off the credit card. The prospect of getting trapped on the PCH between two rock slides or worse being part of a rock slide convinced us to stick around and count as many of the Thousand Oaks as we could find.
Blaine had been bragging about this location used in many television shows and commercials. So this was one of the first beaches we stopped at. It was a park with a lot of parking (why do you think it’s called a “park”?) Being that it was winter time, there weren’t a lot of cars parking there anyway, and we drove through several checkpoints to the last parking lot at the very end, and sure enough there was a huge rock, bigger than any we’d seen so far standing there like the Rock of Gibraltar. It was big for sure, and folks were looking at the rock, and some climbing the paths that lead to the top. Two people who made it all the way stood up there looked like two little ants. BIG rock I told you. Blaine suggested I go up and “touch the rock” just to make sure it wasn’t another Hollywood set piece, and of course once I got there I had to climb up a bit. I only went up maybe three feet using little hand holds, but just enough for Blaine to snap some action shots of the intrepid mountaineer scaling Point Dume. If I had climbed any further it would have been Point Doom for me. I jumped down after the photo shoot and had him take one with me safe again on terra firma. Upon close inspection of the shot, a pink splash of paint on the rock gives the appearance of brain matter squirting out of my head. Nice.
“Awright, awright, awright!” Where else to begin but in Paradise and “Bob Morris’ Beach Café, so named because is located right off the beach in Paradise Cove. Blaine and I, ever conscious about our bulging waistlines now approaching the third trimester agreed to share a burger. Paradise Cove is one of the most expense trailer parks in the world with trailers…trailers mind you selling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and only then can you open negotiations with the owner of the park for his monthly rental fees. Way off to the side all by it’s lonesome sits a brand-new Airstream Trailer, so shiny in its silverness on a nice flat piece of ground carved out from the hillside off the main road and with the perfect view of Paradise Cove. If you haven’t figured out by now whose trailer it is, go to the first three words in this paragraph. That’s right, Matthew McConaughay called this place home for a number of years, that is until he married that beautiful German model who had other ideas when it came to Oceanside living.
We walked along the beach (always a walk to burn off a few of the calories we just stuffed down our gullets) and snapped some photos. On a bluff not far from the restaurant and pier there was a yellow house perched on the edge with manicured gardens and fences. “That’s where Johnnie Carson used to live,” Blaine told me. I could almost hear Ed McMahon calling out, “Therrrrrrrrres’ Johnny’s!” Oh, and Blaine also pointed out that the location was also used for James Garner’s Television Show. No, not Maverick , The Rockford Files, one of my favorite shows. Loved that Black Firebird he drove and the little trailer he lived in right next to the sea.
Though this was not the second beach, I am sticking with The Patton Formula, developed at “Camp Patton”, one that requires that all beaches be listed in order from South to North. Having spent family time at Huntington Beach and Santa Monica, I was now in Blainesville so Leo’s beach comes next. In keeping with the grand adventures we encountered at almost every step of out Road Trip Journey, when we parked and walked down to Leo’s beach, there was a photo shoot going on. Despite the rather frigid California weather, it was in the 50’s and windy so it was a surprise, a pleasant one I might add, to see two young ladies in bikinis posing with the rocks and Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. They were doing this flamingo stance, once foot on the sand, the other foot held high until it reached the back of their heads held in place with one hand. I grabbed my cellphone to snap a shot of my own when they broke pose and ran to get their clothes back on. Damn! They conferred while we walked toward the tidal pools and gathered their stuff to move to another location, double-damn.
I was vaguely familiar with tidal pools, a long flat plain with rocks of all sizes from truck-sized to bowling ball sized deeply imbedded in the sand. Depressions formed behind the rocks allowing water to remain behind after the tide receded. Small animals like sea cucumbers and urchins (sea animals with spiky shells, not small children) and the occasional starfish. There were about a dozen people wandering around the area checking out the tide pools so I walked out keeping a careful eye on the gentle waves that made their way up and around the rocks and the pools behind them. Every so often a bigger wave would cycle raising the water level to two or three inches.
I had my Sperry Docksiders on to keep my host Blaine happy. He was very particular about sand, preferring to keep all of it at the beach, and not using his prize BMW as a dump truck to transport any of it back to Camp Patton. No, we did a shoe check every time we came back from one of our excursions, and I had to bend and twist to remove every grain of sand from the vast crevices of my Nike’s. “Next time bring a freaking brush!” I suggested, and he did. But just to make sure his “Camp Patton” remained a pristine home for his 16 Gottliebs (pinball machines for you uninitiated) and not a Sand Castle, I agreed to wear my smooth bottomed loafers to facilitate the removal of all those errant sand particles. So here I am in my loafers checking out the tide pools and I spot a starfish. Blaine was a safe distance away nearer the shore, but one young lass shouted, “Where? I ‘ve been looking for one.”
I doubled back to point out the five legged little critter, and lost track of the incoming tide, including one wave that was just a little bit larger than the last set. The water level quickly went from two to three inches, to four to six, then eight. I scrambled for higher ground or bigger rock as it were, but by the time I found one my loafers were swimming in ten inches of water. I stepped up on my rock and the sandy water squished out of my shoes, high though not necessarily dry. Then I had to wait for the water to recede before I made my way back to dry land. Fortunately I had hiked my blue jeans up my shins to keep them from getting soaked, but I still had to wait five minutes before the water receded and I slosh/squish, slosh/squished my way to dry land. Of course my pal Blaine was watching and laughing at a safe distance making sure he captured the moment on camera for later viewing.
We made our way to the other side of the beach, and our beach bunnies and their crew were looking like they were getting ready for another shoot, maybe this time with suits off. Yum! Of course they did not require an audience of dirty old men ogling them, so they just milled around until we left. Damn again. We walked around for a bit , then slosh/squished back to the car where I relegated my shoes holding a collection of sand and half the Pacific Ocean to a plastic bag Blaine had brought along for the trip. Why did I keep thinking he had somehow planned for this to happen? Let’s take old Frankie boy to the tide pools and watch the fun, ha ha. With friends like this…. Part 3 - Tomorrow