Hello Napkin Kin! Here is the end of the road trip posts.
Today I leave Berkeley and head back home to Oklahoma. I am sad to leave so soon, having only spent less than 4 full days with Chelsea and her new family. But with a total of 6 days on the road, it makes for a long time away from home.
I woke up to a beautiful and cool Berkeley morning. Another person was staying at the Airbnb that night and we had met the evening before. She was a runner so we had a great conversation about it, including a bit of coaching from me about injury recovery. She mentioned she was going to go on a run the next morning, up the the same park I had done my trail run the day before. I didn’t ask if she wanted a running partner because I didn’t think we knew each other well enough to get in the car together and go traipsing off into the woods. However, when she got back from her run she said she had decided to just skip the trip to the park and run right from the house. Then I wish I had gone on the run with her! Instead I toasted another runner who happened by as I was packing.
Here is the Airbnb link to Edrie and JoAnn’s spot. If you are going to Berkeley, I highly recommend them.
I said adios to Mr. Otis, telling him to take good care of his mama and daddy.
Then I took a selfie with Chelsea in the bright morning sun of Berkeley and said my goodbyes as I drove off into the sunrise!
On the Road Again
Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Denise (homeowner)
It took me most of the day to drive to Arizona. I rolled in to the Airbnb in Lake Havasu City and I had time to go see the famous London Bridge that they bought from London and transported piece by piece to Lake Havasu and reconstructed. I had dinner overlooking it. The home was a nice place on a golf course but they had large dogs that barked into the night, right outside my room, that made sleeping not so easy for a while. Luckily they either fell asleep or the owner brought them into his room and I eventually got a good night’s sleep.
I was out the door and ready to get rolling as the sun rose over the desert. I had a long way to go to get to my destination in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Trinity and American Pie
I went a secondary route through much of Arizona and New Mexico, south of the usual Route 40 headed east. I was listening to a audio book and not paying much attention when I passed a sign that barely caught my eye. I stopped and did a u-turn to see if it was what I thought it was.
And it was. It was Trinity. The spot of the very first explosion of an atomic bomb. That is one of the most momentous moments in world history, as well as US war history. I just stood there and thought about how that moment changed the world in so many ways. It’s humbling to be in a spot like that, especially one that is so profoundly peaceful, quiet and serene, and realize the violence and unforeseen consequences that came from that moment.
I continued down the 2 lane highway for hours, seeing almost no traffic at all. But then, I turned a long sweeping arch and found myself smack dab in the middle of a party. Hundreds of cars and people parked on the side of the road in ‘Pie Town, New Mexico. I think the actual town consists of just this store, the ‘Pie-o-neer’.
It turns out there was a pie festival with contests and awards, pie making demos and more. I didn’t see much of that but I did walk among the booths and found a couple good things to bring home for Linda.
This lady, Cindy Yarmal, was selling veggies on the front porch of the pie shop while tourists mingled and a good ol’ boy band played some tunes on the other end of the porch. I asked her if I could take her photo and she obliged me. After I sat and enjoyed a slice of Blackberry pie as the world swirled around me.
I arrived at ‘The Snowcap Adobe’ just as the sun had set. I had contacted the owner, Susan, earlier in the day to let her know my time of arrival and she told me she had her best friend over and chili on the stove, asking if I would want some for dinner instead of having to find food before I arrived. That was a welcomed idea and I took her up on it!
Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Susan (homeowner)
Her home was amazing. It was built by her family many decades ago and she had updated it in recent years to make it a welcoming spot for travelers. It felt homey and warm. The three of us sat at her kitchen counter and she told me the story of her family and her home. Susan was a great story teller, especially about her grandfather, a well known artist in the mid-twentieth century regionalist tradition. She had even done her Ph.D. thesis on his use of symbolism in his art.
Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Susan (homeowner)
This was my bedroom for the night, comfortable and genuine New Mexico.
Day 9 – Headed Home
Finally I was on my last day. I once again left early, before Susan had awoke. This is an early morning view of her solarium that her mother tended while she was still alive. It is still filled with plants but Susan says she forgets to water them. There are a lot of plants, I probably would too.
I drove northeast through rural New Mexico and Texas until I reached Amarillo. During that stretch I found one last interesting place. Alanbeen, Texas was a gas station and a motel. That was it as far as I could tell. The station said it was the post office too so I think that pretty much says it all.
The gas station consisted of one pump. Surprisingly it did take credit cards. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to go into the convenience store so I let it run and went inside.
And good thing I did, because otherwise I would have missed this sexy Texas miss smiling at me! The place was a hoot, covered top to bottom with stuff, most old Texas memorabilia and trinkets.
And then was a beeline home. I arrived in time to have dinner and relax, hear about Linda’s bachelorette week and show her some photos of Mr. Otis!
And that’s the end of this road trip! Next stop will be the opposite coast to visit my OTHER grandchild, Vivian. Not sure when that will be but I will let you know.
California Road Trip
Continuing my epic road trip to California and back…
By day 3 in Berkeley I had a rhythm of going to the French Hotel and Coffee Bar on Shattuck to pick up some pastries and coffee, then heading over to Chelsea’s house. She seemed thankful for the Cafe Mocha that morning but it sort of looks like Otis is in need of it even more.
One of the cool things about staying at Airbnb spots is seeing homes uniquely designed.
My hosts in Berkeley had devised a pretty cool way to both display and have available their collection of earrings. they simply hooked them on the bottom of the sheer curtain in the guest bathroom. I don’t know if it originally was a way to keep the curtain weighted when the window was open and the wind was blowing, but it made for a fun and unexpected design element in the bathroom.
And here was another design element in the bathroom I thought was pretty cool. It was a functional art piece on the wall and I liked it! And no, I did not steal any of the belts, though the green one was tempting!
Graham had to rehearse for a big show he was going to be in so Chelsea, Otis and I took a foray into the hills of Berkeley. We went up to the very top of the area, to Tilden Regional Park. It is a beautiful and serene spot not at all far from the bustle of the East Bay. We chose Lake Anza because Chelsea could sit and nurse Otis while I went on a run around the lake and presumably I would not get lost. I took a few spurs off the lake not realizing it but I made my way back without too much consternation on anyone’s part.
This is about a 3rd of the way around the lake. Chelsea and Otis are just to the right of the marker in the water in the middle of the image. On the left is a popular beach that allows you to swim in the lake. It even has lap lanes beyond the play swim area. I thought that was a pretty cool idea.
Right after taking the vista shot of the lake I turned was about to restart my run when I found this fellow fetching balls while wearing a doggie floatie vest. I immediately thought of a friend of mine back in Tulsa, Rosemary Dougherty, who has a serious love affair with all things bulldog. I knew it would make her happy to see him and it did.
In the meanwhile, this is the trail I was running. I thought I was going to be running a flat trail around a lake, but it was anything but. It was a challenge! I twisted my foot at one point but didn’t really feel it until that night and it wasn’t serious.
When I returned Otis was a happy camper, as you can tell!
After Otis was filled we took a hike down Chelsea’s favorite trail. It was easier than the running trail I found, that is for sure. We think of redwoods as being in big forests all by themselves but throughout Northern California there are many places they grow in and among a wide range of trees. Tilden Park is one of those places.
Along the trail we found an old pump house. I loved the stone around the empty window and had Chelsea and Otis sit in it for a portrait.
I got Chelsea to take one of me as well.
Chelsea kept Otis in the wrap for the entire hike. It was long and got a bit warm by Berkeley standards (still felt cool to someone from Oklahoma though). It translated into both of them being very tired when we returned to her apartment and they settled into a nice nap.
While they slept Graham and I walked down to Shattuck Avenue, to an area of Berkeley known as the Gourmet Ghetto. Destination: The Cheese Board. As you can tell from the line in the photo, it is a popular place. It sells only one type of pizza per day. No choice. It’s listed on a board but all those people in line? They don’t check first to see what the type is for that day. They know it will be great and they are going to get it no matter what. We were the same way. Turned out ours was fantastic, with guacamole and cilantro and peppers and sausage (if I remember correctly). YUM! They also had a cool jazz band playing. It was quintessential Berkeley.
Later that night Otis’ Godmother Lina came over to see Otis and meet me for the first time. We hung around for a long time talking about all sorts of things. She had just returned from her umpteenth time at Burning Man so she had lots of stories to tell. Chelsea and she gave me the low down on how to prepare and experience Burning Man in case I ever make it to the event. I want to and hope to within the next few years!
California Road Trip
Hello again Napkin Kin! Here is the part 2 of my epic road trip to the west coast this past week.
Since Chelsea and Graham live in a studio apartment with a new born, my housing was obviously going to be elsewhere. I found a great Airbnb spot about 6 blocks away in the Berkeley Hills. This is their living room overlooking the small winding street below. Edrie and her partner JoAnn were friendly and hospitable hosts, with coffee in a French press ready for me each morning.
Chelsea’s family unit had an appointment on Tuesday morning so I was solo for a few hours. I took advantage of the time to get my first run in. I had to return the U-Haul trailer and the location was way down in flats of Berkeley, near the San Francisco Bay. I figured there had to be running trails near the bay and I found a great one that goes for miles and miles. Within that trail was a loop that went out into the bay towards the Berkeley Marina. It was there that I found Cesar Chavez Park, with a great latticework of dirt and asphalt trails.
The sky was overcast and the air was cool with that fantastic California ocean breeze. After a summer of 90 + degree running days in Tulsa, it was exhilarating to run in cooler temps. It wasn’t just the temps but the surroundings. This little peninsula of a park was beautiful and natural. You would not know you were in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas of the United States, that is for sure. But as I crested over a little hill in the middle of the park I realized where I was.
It may look like just a trail with water in the background but look close. The water leads to a bridge on the left, which leads to a city which lead to another bridge in the center right. One of the best things about running in new places is how you always end up seeing that place in ways you can’t anticipate. Seeing the Bay Bridge, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge all at the same time from this angle was fantastic. It was so cool I made this loop about 3 times, going 2 miles further than I had planned, just so I could experience it longer.
Then of course there is the more mundane angle to a run. What can be a majestic bay is always a small and intimate one with birds and mud and grass just like the Arkansas River back home or any other body of water. But look close again and there are always things to admire and wonder at.
Here is another thing runners often see that others don’t, the homeless. Of course in most cities you don’t find them waking up with this view. A night outdoors might be a tad bit easier on the SF Bay, but overall I have a feeling the burden is the same no matter where it is.
As I turned around at the halfway point of my run I glimpsed the BerkeleyMarina and the Berkeley Hills from whence I had come.
When I returned the Coleman-Patzner family were folding laundry and playing. No worries, he isn’t about to break his neck. He does a lot of backward and upward bending motions and his neck is already quite strong. I experienced it first hand. Not bad for a 6 week old!
Otis and I hung out on the porch for a while. He was quite mesmerized by the amazing stories of my many road trips, as you can tell.
So much so that it wore him out. Here he is dreaming of going on an epic road trip with Papa Marty.
Even though Linda wasn’t there, I knew it was what she would have done so Chelsea, Otis and I went on a shopping trip that afternoon, getting stuff for the kitchen and the rest of the apartment. We also got fixins for a family dinner.
Graham’s parents, Curt and Karla Patzner, came over for dinner. I had met Karla before but hadn’t met Curt. I liked him because well, he had a nice hat. What more did I need to know, right? I made Linda’s famous Smoked Salmon Pasta with lemon and Dill. It went over pretty well!
It was babysitting day for me! Graham and Chelsea took a break in the afternoon to go see a movie and Papa Marty and Mr. Otis had our first bonding time alone.
But first Graham got Otis all ready for our big adventure. I don’t know Graham all that well, having only met him a few times, once when I visited California last year and another when Chelsea and he came to Oklahoma on their own epic road trip in the spring. That trip was a 6 week music tour around the entire US of A in a little Saturn car while Chelsea was preggers so yes, it was truly epic! Graham has been a very attentive and hands on father, playing with Otis, changing diapers, just taking care of business as a father. It’s been good to see.
While he slept I did a bit of work in the kitchen, moving out the fridge to put in a plug and mopping the floor. After that we went for a walk around the neighborhood. I introduced him to the jungle that is in the Berkeley Hills, with an elephant standing guard in a corner yard.
It was made of old pieces of tires. It was amazing.
A lot of Berkeley is amazing. While most homes don’t have huge land mammals in their yards, most of the homes have fantastic flowers and landscaping in their hilly lots. The homes are of all sorts, with a large percentage being of the Arts and Crafts movement, one of my favorite architectural styles.
The day ended with us going out to a Himalayan Restaurant on Shattuck Avenue in what is known as the Gourmet Ghetto area of Berkeley. It is too, amazing amount of restaurants in a very short stretch. It was really good!
California Road Trip
Hello Napkin Kin!
I’ve been gone on an epic solo road trip to Berkeley, California and back. It was 9 days, 3,675 miles and 62 hours in the car. I took 2.5 days to get there and 3 to get back with 3 and 1/2 days in Berkeley visiting my daughter Chelsea and partner Graham along with my first Grandson, Otis!
I didn’t post here during the trip because I posted on instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr instead. I figured I would show you the pics in 2-3 posts.
I have done similar trips before where I pushed it to 2 days and even 30 hours straight but I decided to do a little Airbnbing this time around. Do you know what Airbnb.com is? It’s an online room renting service. I first used it back in 2012 for 4 days in New York City when I spoke at Blog World. I rented a room in a little apartment in the West Village and loved it. So on this trip I not only found rooms on the trip out and back but stayed 4 days in Berkeley at an Airbnb home as well. Chelsea and Graham live in a studio apartment with a newborn so staying with them was NOT going to be happening.
So, here are the pics from the way out + some bonus ones only YOU get to see. Aren’t you special?!
I was also pulling a trailer full of furniture on the way out. It was a couple of beds, a dresser and miscellaneous tables for them to put in their little studio space. I started off on Saturday around noon after coaching my running group. I ran 9 miles which I thought wouldn’t be so long a run as to make a long road trip immediately afterward unbearable. I was right, my legs and the drive were fine. My goal was to get to Albuquerque, New Mexico by 10pm or so.
I wasn’t deep in the heart of Texas, more along the edge, but the Panhandle is about as Texas as it gets. I loved the simple design of the two stars, one a shadow cutout, the other a window to the sky. Texas has some of the best tourist info areas, always well designed and interesting.
Texas Information Center, Texas Panhandle
If you are wondering of West Texas is a flat as they say? Yes, it is.
I hit the New Mexico border at sunset and was able to grab a shot of the sun setting in the Land of Enchantment.
The flowers outside my first stop, an Airbnb room in Albuquerque, were amazing – especially after the sun rose and they were brightly lit.
I took off early and as I turned my first corner leaving town I found this rising to greet me as the day dawned.
Later in the day I hit the high desert area of California. The Mojave Desert to be exact. It’s not all one big sand dune, most deserts aren’t actually. But it is arid and stark. But that arid starkness leads to incredible beauty and exquisite design.
This was taken in Boron, California. When I was a kid there was a cleaning product called 24 Mule Team Borax. I always knew it came from here, Boron in the high desert. And now I’ve seen it.
I spent night 2 at a fantastic Airbnb location in Tehachapi, California. It is also in the high desert, at the western edge right before you travel down into the central valley and Bakersfield. Richard was my host and he was attentive, interesting and engaging. We talked about our mutual lives (he had lived 40 years in Hawaii as a dive instructor) before I went to bed.
The house was built by a silent screen star named Thelma after her retirement in the 60s and he had spent the past year doing renovations to the place. It was immaculate.
He had an indoor pool that I was able to swim in in the morning. It is solar heated and was fantastic. Yes, that is a rubber ducky in my hand and no, that is not my tail coming out behind me.
My first official stop in California was at the home of Cyndi and Darrell Blaschak in Livermore. Cyndi is the younger sister of my exwife Kathy. In addition to furniture for Chelsea I had brought on piece, an old sled bed, for Kathy as well. She had left it with me when she had moved back to California from Tulsa in 2004 or so. And now, 10 years later, I was bringing it back. Unfortunately Kathy lives far north of San Francisco and I wasn’t able to get all the way up there so I dropped it off at Cyndi’s house for safe keeping.
It was great to see Cyndi and Darrell again. I started dating Kathy in 1979 when Cyndi was only about 14 years old so I have known her a long time. She is now a mother of 3 as well as an incredibly active athlete.
And then finally I had arrived at my destination, Otis. Yes, I was going to Berkeley, but I was really going to Otis. He’s only 6 weeks old here. After our introductions Mr. Otis settled down and started to get used to Papa Marty.
Since I still had the trailer attached to the car I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a parking place at my Airbnb spot nearby. So Chelsea and I hiked the Berkeley Hills for close to a mile to find the spot. On the way Mr. Otis went to his very first library. It was a free library on the street.
Chelsea, Otis and I had dinner at Cafe Gratitude. I chose the ‘I am Humble’ for my dinner but I felt Iwas all those things as I watched my daughter take care of my first Grandson.
As we walked home the sun fired it’s last rays into the Berkeley sky. I am blessed.
California Road Trip