North America | United States of America (USA) | California | San Francisco | Berkeley – Day 5 – Welcome to the Promised Land!
End of Day 5, Almost 2:00am Pacific Time.
The adventure is over and a new one’s just beginning. We’re in Berkeley, California staying with a friend of mine from college. I’m extremely tired, so if my writing makes no sense, deal with it!! I can’t believe we actually made it here in 5 days (would have been 4 if it weren’t for our little sojourn in Arizona). The Tercel logged 3506 miles from Chestnut Ridge, NY to Berkeley, CA. All those who doubted the abilities of the White Chariot .Shame on You!!! That car should have its license plate number retired in all 50 States! I’m proud to say ..NO TICKETS!!! Our route took us through 12 states and we were on 7 different interstates. Through in a natural wonder, some outstanding views, and a few cops with attitudes and you’ve got yourself one heck of a roadtrip.
After a continental breakfast at the Blythe Best Western, we set off across the Sonoran Desert towards Los Angeles. (I wonder who came up with the term ‘continental breakfast’. Two pieces of toast and a tiny bowl of corn flakes sounds more like a continental appetizer to me. I was hungry again before I got back to my room). The Sonoran Desert, although pretty bleak, provided some excellent views. When you’re travelling at sea level through land as flat as a pancake, the slightest bump in the horizon looks spectacular. Somewhere along the way, we noticed a sign for Joshua Tree National Forest and we thought a slight detour would be in order.
The landscape we drove through on the way to the ranger station reminded me of a scene from a Star Wars movie. I half expected Ewoks to pop out of the rocks and try to steal the White Chariot. At the ranger station, we were informed that we had to drive for another hour before we could see the famous Joshua Trees (U2 Album cover), and since time was of the essence, we decided to head back to the interstate.
As we got closer to Los Angeles, we passed the snow-capped San Bernadino mountains and saw thousands of electricity-generating windmills nestled in the foothills (another futuristic looking sight). Although we didn’t drive through the heart of Los Angeles, we did experience the famous L.A. smog and haze. With a little imagination, you can almost picture it being fog, but it’s haze alright! It would have been nice to drive around but I’ve seen too many pictures of L.A. traffic and I wanted no part of rush hour. Even at 2pm, the highways (sorry freeways) were starting to fill up. Where are all these people coming from and where are they going? Don’t they have real jobs? Spending half my day on the freeway is not my idea of a great life.
Speaking of which, the word freeway is quite a misnomer. Californians (I guess I’m one of them now) would have you believe that their highways are free but they charge you indirectly by ripping you off at the gas pump. $1.35 for a gallon of gas?!? Is there some kind of special extraction method used for California gas that warrants such daylight robbery? Actually, now that I think about it, raising the price of gas may be a good way to solve the Garden State Parkway traffic. I’d rather pay 35 cents more per gallon that have to stop every 5 miles and deal with Jersey Road Rage.
Well anyway we got out of L.A. without getting shot at. More scenic views were in store for us on Interstate 5. The drive up to San Francisco starts off though the mountains (they’re everywhere) and once you descend from the clouds (a very cool feeling), you are on the world’s straightest road with some of the best agricultural land in the country on both sides. For about 200 miles, you drive without moving the steering wheel one inch in either direction. Sunset was right over a mountain range to our left and it competed very well with yesterday’s. The judges awarded a 9.5
As we approached San Francisco, I started to feel my heart beating faster ..I was close to my new home and the journey was drawing to a close. As Interstate 580 closed in on the Bay Bridge, views of the city started popping up around every corner. I’ve always thought that New York’s skyline is unparalleled, but I must admit that this one comes pretty close. Once we got to Berkeley, we unloaded some stuff and headed into the city for a quick tour. Although we were exhausted, Scott had to see as much as he could before leaving. S.F. is a pretty amazing city and from Coit Tower, one is treated to some pretty spectacular views. Also must sees are the crookedest street in the world and, of course, The Golden Gate Bridge. The view from the Golden Gate Recreational Area is amazing ..it was a great way to cap off our trip.
So we got here safe and sound. We are very thankful to God for protecting us and for giving us such an enjoyable trip. I’m glad Scott could come with me so I had someone to share the cross-country experience with. It’s a beautiful country, even Texas and Oklahoma. I think the most common expression we used this week was .’Wow!!! Did you see that!?!’ Scott leaves for Chicago tomorrow morning along with his laptop, so I probably won’t have access to e-mail for a while but please feel free to keep writing to me. ([email protected]). I’ll get them sooner or later.
Thanks for putting up with my daily ramblings. I hope I was able to convey at least a small part of our experiences and some of you did write back saying how much you’ve enjoyed them. No plans for a sequel just yet. San Francisco is a great city and I am really looking forward to the next couple of years in this area. I encourage you to come and visit as soon as you can. I don’t have a place yet, but as soon as I do, mi casa es su casa. I’ll let you know. I already miss New Jersey very much, not so much for the place as for the people. You all hold a special place in my heart and I hope I am able to keep in touch with all of you.
Cheers from the Foggy City!
Over and out ..