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Saturday, June 10, 2000

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Down the Coast

I woke up at 2:30 this morning and pulled myself and my stuff out of bed and out of the room with, I hope, a minimum of noise for my roommates. I know I usually hear when they come in and out but they usually seem to never even stir. I dressed in the bathroom again and hauled myself, my suitcase, my linens and whatever downstairs, and it was hard since my mind and muscles weren't really coordinating yet.

Downstairs there were still people who hadn't gone to bed yet and the night staff was still cleaning up the ballroom after the usual evening partying. The desk clerk gave me back my $30.00 deposit but told me it wasn't worth it to call a taxi as it was faster to just wave down a taxi outside. So there I was in the nudie bar area at 3:00 in the morning waving down a taxi. There really were quite a few and I grabbed one quick and was soon down at the Transbay Terminal.

I always try to get to the bus station an hour ahead as you get a better seat that way. Well I got there and the waiting room was locked. There were some people inside but a guy, sleeping on the floor, said they were locked in when the terminal closed in the evening. Outside were several homeless people and a few other people waiting for the the waiting room and the ticket desk to open.

I joined everyone else on the floor. The security guys came through a couple times and seemed to keep the sleepers sitting up. As far as I could tell, you weren't allowed to lie die. The place was deserted other than a few people outside. I went downstairs and took a few pictures but it was rather spooky. The terminal also does not have any lockers, which is strange.

The bus was due to leave at 4:30 and about 4:15 the doors were finally unlocked and the ticket office opened. The driver was ready to load us so there was quite a rush. It was exciting taking off in the dark. We got on US-101 and headed down the peninsula. I half dozed as we joined CA-87 into San Jose. We then were on CA-87 and CA-85 and, finally US-101 on down the coast. The driver and a passenger were discussing the Mustang Ranch, the brothel the IRS ended up owning and that a friend (?) paid $500.00 for three people to spend two hours there.

We went through Salinas, Soledad, no one was there, King City, where I finally got a cup of coffe, then Luis Obispo where I finally managed to get another cup of coffee and a donut. I'm not big on donuts in the morning, I prefer protein so I was not in good shape. I had eaten some crackers and peanut butter crackers and nibbled on some pretzels, but I like a decent breakfast and I especially like some milk first thing.

The scenery was good though. This is a rich valley and rolling hills and grasslands. Much more interesting than I-5. There were some stops where people just waited on the sidewalk somewhere and had to get tickets at the next stop. I dozed through most of the morning and read mysteries the rest of the time so I didn't really pay as much attention as I usually do. Most trips I'm too busy watching the scenery roll by to do much reading, but I was tired from all the walking I'd been doing and needed some quality sleep so I slept and read.

We'd been inland up till now but saw just a glimpse of the ocean before we continued on south stopping at little towns. We took CA-154 to Santa Barbara which is a very pretty spanish colonial town. I got a good ham sandwich there which sustained me as we took US-101 on into Hollywood and Los Angeles. We followed the ocean with white beaches for a while and then were swallowed up in the megacity. I like LA. It's so big but there always seems to be an energy there. I like cities. I like nature too but all nature and peace is very boring.

I had an hour at the Los Angeles station so I got a couple bananas and some milk for supper. It was nice after junk all day. When I boarded the bus to Riverside the driver told me I could get there half an hour faster if I took the express to San Bernadino and transferred to an incoming bus to Riverside but I just didn't want to transfer again. This is a strange schedule as it goes south to Long Beach, Anaheim and Santa Ana and then north to Riverside and San Bernardino, then back south again to I-10 where it finally heads out to Indio.

I'm starting to recognize the various stations since I've been on this route so often as Long Beach is the closest pickup point for Torrance. We took I-5 to I-710 to Ca-91 to Compton, then CA-91 and I-710 to Long Beach. Once again on I-710, I-405 and CA-22 to Anaheim and then just a quick ride on I-5 and CA-22 to Santa Ana. Finally I-5, CA-57 and CA-91 to Riverside. The driver did this looking like he was half asleep but I would have been so confused if I tried to drive it.

I got off the bus in Riverside and a guy was right there asking if I needed a taxi. I said yes, glad that I didn't have to wait. We came around the end of the station and I see several taxis in the parking lot but he heads across the street with my suitcase. Evidently he was not a registered taxi. He had my suitcase in the trunk by then so I just got in and he took me to the motel. There was no meter, of course, but he charged me a reasonable amount.

It was nice to check in and finally get to a room of my own where I could just veg out and run around without clothes on. I enjoy hostels, and I especially enjoy the money they save me but sometimes all that togetherness gets to me. It was also nice for a news junkie like me to watch CNN and catch up on what was going on.

The books I read the last couple of days are:
"Down Among the Dead Men" by Geraldine Evans. This is a good mystery with a very good twist at the end. The detectives are Rafferty and Llewellyn of the Suffolk police force who had to deal with a copycat killer and a very rich, arrogant family.

"Death and the Princess" by Robert Barnard was a good tale of hijinks among royalty. The police detective Superintendent Perry Trethowan has to protect a princess from herself and the unsavorory characters she prefers to party with, but first he has to find why there is a danger to her from them. This was written in 1982, before the problems of the British royal family hit the headlines but it seems a preshadowing of them. Robert Barnard is always a good read with slightly off center characters.

"Murder in the Valley" by David Osborn is a tale of greed and family feuds with a protagonist who is a 50s female journalist who hang glides and still looks damn good. I couldn't decide whether to admire her or hate her but she is an interesting detective. She arrives at a Napa Valley vineyard to write an article of high class house wines and ends up solving particularly brutal murders. It gives a nice look at the problems in wine production and the people who produce it.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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