Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rainy Road trip

(note: to my non-travel log friends, I'm now doing all my blogging, reporting, whatevering, here. This may or may not be your thing. eah)

Here I sit in the Westin Long Beach. I'm waiting for Sue, my partner-in-crime in things SWE Girl Scouts to come over so we can work on our possible Webinar. For those of my followers who don't know - a webinar is a seminar conducted by telephone and internet. Nowadays, everyone mutes their phones and so you can't see faces or now, hear chuckles at your possibly bad one-liners. It's worse than talking to yourself.

Yesterday, my friend Jacey and I drove the Prius 400 miles to Long Beach. We started out in rain which stayed with us the whole time on 101. California highways at the first rain are dreadful. The roads are slick from all the oil that's built up over the past several months. Everyone's forgotten how to drive in weather that's well, weather. The big ole trucks are kicking up lots of water. When we pulled off in Gilroy, I finally realized it wasn't pouring, it was all the kicked up water making me think that.

At Gilroy, we started cutting over to Hwy 5 which runs fast up and down the state. We stopped at the factory outlets because that's where the Jelly Belly outlet store is. Worth it because you can get any variety they make by the bag, $9/lb (much better than at, say, Diddams) AND you can buy Belly Flops. Those are the QA rejects. Taste the same, look terrible. It used to be you could buy one, get one for a nickel. Now, it's buy 3 get 2 free. Yes, we did. See, we're in Long Beach for the Society of Women Engineers conference and today, we have committee meetings. And due to cost cuttings, there's not food at meetings and sugar is always good for the sleep-deprived, right? [Hey, maybe I'll but that on my Estherisms, on my website.]

We started off an Hwy 152 and found ourselves close enough to Casa de Fruita to stop for lunch. I'm not sure what I thought it was like but it wasn't. The part we sat in was in decor more like Johnny Rocket than anything faintly spanish looking. But the Kobe beef burgers were great.

We made our way without much adventure to 5. 152 goes through some nice northern california hillsides dotted with oak trees. So it was quite pretty.

Hwy 5 started out ok - rain but reasonable, fewer truck, views of the Aquiduct. Do you know that there are only 2 or 3 things on earth visible from space? The great wall of China and the California aquiduct are two.

We drove buy a lot of signs saying "Congress created dust bowls" in areas where indeed everything was quite dried up. Not sure what produced this, need to google it some time.
My poor Prius had been getting about 44 mpg all summer, but on this trip, more like 34. So we had to fill up earlier. Part of it was the speed but more was the extra load. It's usually just me and some stuff. We had three suitcases, two carry ons, 6 lbs of Jelly Bellys/Flops and two huge boxes of supplies for Engineering Your Future, the GS Getaway.

Switched over drivers at that point. I got the rain, Jacey got the wind. There were tumbleweeds crossing the freeway. Now tell me, tumbleweeds in central California?? I've done this route before. I'm fairly certain that I've only ever seen tumbleweeds in either Texas or Wyoming. At some point we saw a small herd of donkeys. That was mildly exciting. I got some knitting done but mostly ate some of my Tutti Fruiti Jelly Bellys.

And then there was the dust. Guess the signs were right. It was bad. We missed the spot in Gorman (I'm fond of Gorman, cause my nephew's a Gorman, Hi J!) where we planned to switch off. So Jacey got to navigate the LA/Long Beach traffic while I navigated via the maps. We used the diamond (commuter, carpool) lane. We were on hwy 405 by that point. These are limited access lanes - marked by solid vs dashed lines. Much nicer than anyone can jump in or out at any point and well-marked as to upcoming exits.

After that, totally uneventful. Got settled in to our hotel and went off to register at the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference at Long Beach Convention center. Went off with Kimberly, for dinner at "Islands, fine burgers & drinks". I discovered that Mai Tais and Chinese Chicken salad work pretty well together. It was nice because I've been Jacey's mentor and Jacey's been Kimberly's mentor. Yes, that makes me Kimberley's grandmentor. Isn't that fun!

Today I've got meetings most of the day and it's raining. Will post when I can.


© 2009 Esther A. Heller


  1. So happy to see you are blogging your travels, now! Be sure to start posting a photo or two as your trip progresses. And, hey, Esther - did you have to travel in a torrential storm? I mean, really.

  2. Hi Sheila,
    I know - the storm. Must be my new England blood.
    Carried the camera all day and never took a picture. How sad is that?

  3. I have definitely seen tumbleweeds on I-5. On one trip in my old VW Rabbit, I was dodging 'weeds as big as the car, rolling down the road toward us. Eerie.