Social Whirl

North America
November 24th 2005
Published: November 24th 2005
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Happy campers.Happy campers.Happy campers.

Fire courtesy of Tony, margaritas from Graeme. He makes a mean margarita now.
Social whirl & our first Thanksgiving

Hallo, we’re back. There has been a bit of a gap in the blog for several reasons. First of all we had friends visiting which was very nice, and secondly the internet connection has been to slow to upload pictures. The third reason follows below, and although I don’t want to bore you too much with the details it was a very interesting experience and a different way in which to meet the locals.

On our way to San Francisco we dropped into Grass Valley to get 37 (small) repairs done on the rig. Grass Valley is an attractive small historic mining town and you get the impression that not too much happens there.
Whilst the rig was in the workshop, we spent a couple of days cycling around enjoying the sights.

One day Graeme took his glasses to the opticians to be fixed. The shop was in a street surrounded by all the medical services and a rather nice modern looking hospital. I said to Graeme “oh it would be quite interesting to have a look around; perhaps we should go in?”
They say to be careful what you
All aboard, except meAll aboard, except meAll aboard, except me

On a San Francisco Tram, pose influenced by Wallace & Grommit
wish for, as it may come true!
Well some time later as I was wheeled in on a stretcher I reviewed that thought and decided I could have lived without this particular wish being granted!

So, how did I get there? Well it was my own fault. I was whizzing downhill on my bike when I managed to go over the handlebars. As I lay spread-eagled in the road, my bike resting safely on top of me, I was not too sure how I was going to disentangle myself, as I could not appear to move my arms. A quick mental checklist proved I had no neck pain or back pain, could wiggle my fingers and knew who I was, I just couldn’t get up.

Well, cars stopped and people seemed to appear from everywhere. Someone said “shall we dial 911?” ..... I said “no I’m English? (thinking about insurance problems I suppose) just give me a minute to move” but someone had called, and before I knew it, literally within minutes there was a nice shiny fire truck, 2 police cars and an ambulance.

I am now sure not much happens in Grass Valley.

Under dressed  dog!Under dressed  dog!Under dressed dog!

The best thing which unfortunately you cannot see was that a large Dalmation was also taking this picture
in the middle of this, Tim & Brad from DeMartinis (where we purchased our rig) drove by. Tim said to Brad "look at that kid lying in the road"....then recognised it was me and stopped. They asked where Graeme was and then went to get him.

Meanwhile, I (Graeme) was ahead at the traffic lights only a hundred yards ahead waiting for Moi to catch up. This is the normal way of things as she is always a few minutes behind. Anyway, I was just begining to think she was being particularly slow today when Tim & Brad pulled up with some story about Moi lying in the road bleeding....which I thought was a wind-up. Only after they insisted they weren't joking did I jump into the truck with my bike & we headed up the hill. When we got there I was a little taken back to see a serious looking accident scene.

Back at the Road Traffic Incident......some people removed my bike and my bag from me and helped me rollover.
As Graeme returned with Tim & Brad he saw all this going on. He must have had visions of finishing the trip alone!
The boys
Monterrey PierMonterrey PierMonterrey Pier

An excellent fishy lunch was eaten here
loaded our bikes onto their truck and we were loaded into the ambulance I still thought I could treat myself but Graeme was not to keen. I did refuse the neck collar and back board though.

As we drove off I thought "where is my bag?" The ambulance people drove back around the block to check and once they delivered me to ER phoned the police and fire station and Graeme & Tim checked all the nearby businesses, but to no avail.

The obvious conclusion was, that unfortunately it had been stolen. Our main worry was that my Passport was in it

Anyway the Sheriff came to see us in ER. We explained we needed to file a police report for our insurance etc. He said to leave it for a few days & if it hasn’t turned up we could do it then. We explained that we were travelling and wouldn’t be able to stay for the weekend (vision of Tony & Sally being left in San Francisco) why could we not do it now? I just love this bit; The Sheriff said “because it cannot possibly be stolen, it just doesn’t happen here, it will turn up”

Now I was beginning to understand why they could respond so quickly to a 911 call.

So, after being patched up, the Sheriff gave us a lift back to DeMartinis to find our bikes.
Let me tell you those police cars are not built for comfort. All hard plastic seats (can be hosed down I suppose) and that grid does so spoil your view and strangely enough they appear to have child locks on the passenger doors.

Now I must say, having wished to see the inside of the Hospital, and following our experience of a close up view, we were very impressed. All the things you hear at home about leaving you laying in the street until you have shown your insurance papers or credit card, just did not occur (big cities maybe?)

We were seen immediately, wounds cleaned up, head stuck back together, arms checked, not broken, just not working, & details taken. When they realised we were from the UK they said just drop your insurance details by tomorrow or fax them in! Oh and we wish bad Karma on the person who has taken your bag, although it is very
Pile of large whitebait!Pile of large whitebait!Pile of large whitebait!

The beach was covered with sleeping elephant seals. One was snoozing on a "no waiting" traffic cone.
strange, as there is no crime around here!

We should have had faith in the locals,as later on that evening, we got a phone call from the sheriff to say he had my bag; did we want to go and collect it? When we explained we had no transport he said he would bring it to us. Even with my limited dealing with the Police, he appeared to be more than helpful. The next day everyone we told was so pleased, as they could not believe anyone would have stolen my bag. We were so pleased that we were so wrong.........and there still is no crime in Grass Valley.

What had happed was, the lady who removed it passed it to her friend who thought it was hers and put it in their car. Later when they found it they realised what had happened & returned it to the fire station, who called the police.

To finish off our exhausting day, we decided to get something to eat (never being one to be put off my food). The nearest place was a pizza restaurant on a trading estate. Not something we usually eat, but easy enough food
Small Pool at Hearst Castle!Small Pool at Hearst Castle!Small Pool at Hearst Castle!

Note lack of beautiful view in background. Graeme rather took a fancy to this pool. It took 3 attempts before WRH was happy and this was the final result.Nice
for someone who could not get her hands to her mouth.

I had on Graeme’s top (loose enough to get arms in), track suit pants, usually only ever seen indoors, sported a beautiful black eye, sutured eyebrow and had hands and arms dressed like a burns patient. (Rather OTT if you ask me) and was unable to use cutlery. It must have looked like one of those scenes out of a movie where someone is trying to eat but had no coordination. All the topping kept falling off into a big pile on a paper plate. The strange thing was as we looked around us I didn’t look out of place!!
It was a fitting ending to an interesting day.

Now, quiz of the day for the nursing contingency: "how much do you think an ambulance, examination, gluing of head, antibiotic cream and dressings cost?"
Answer at end of blog. First prize is for correct guess for the price of 500ml bottle of Sodium Chloride solution to clean wounds!

Anyway, no great lasting damage done....Then the bruising appeared, arms seized up, living rigor mortis set in and I was incapable of independent living for a week
Spot the ButterflySpot the ButterflySpot the Butterfly

These leaves are Monarch butterflies. The trees were just covered with them. Oh, fear of butterflies is known as lepidopterophobia
or 2 or 3
So looking my best, off we set to meet Tony, Sally Holly and Annabel, 3 hours drive away.

We stayed in a site in Petaluma where Tony & Sally had a “KOA Kosy Kamping Kabin!” and we were opposite .We didn’t realise how much we had missed Tony and his fire starting skills. We had a campfire every night and cooked / burned our supper on it. As well as playing at being pioneers we did all the touristy things and had a good time.
San Francisco was great, what a beautiful city. It is one city we could imagine living in if we had a few million $ to spare. If you think we have problems with property prices try buying here.

We also went to Haight Ashbury in SF which is the old hippy area where it all happened in the 60's. We think quite a few of them got left behind. We were not sure who was dressed for Halloween or just looked like that anyway. The best thing was, loads of people had outfits for their dogs! It’s a weird world here, just when you think you are getting used
Great shopGreat shopGreat shop

If we had found this shop first we could have dressed for Ian's night. Note another strange man lurking in background.
to it, it gets weirder…….
In a department store in Orange, LA we saw a whole section of outfits for your dog, cocktail dresses, tuxedo, sport outfits, whatever your pet needs!

One thing that happens on the road is that you hear about things as you go along. Whilst standing at a check out in Lake Tahoe we overheard the cashier tell her friend she was going to see Neil Young with Crosby, Stills & Nash in San Francisco. So we got on the internet, checked it out and tickets were still available. It just happened to be on the weekend after Tony & Sally left ,so we would be in the area. The concert is a charity show that Neil Young has been organising for the last 19 years for the Bridge School. A school set up in 1987 "to push the envelope of what is possible in the education of children with severe physical & speach impairments". His son is quadraplegic.

Well what an excellent day. As well as C,S, N & Y there was Norah Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Los Lobos, Emmy Lou Harris, Dave Mathews and more. Crowd watching was also highly interesting as
Festivities in RigFestivities in RigFestivities in Rig

There was room for all the bottles on the table, that's a relief
there were still several Halloween themes around. The weather was great.

SF also gave us chance to meet with Kevin & Linda (family connection) who took us for an excellent Indian meal. It was so good it was almost like a café in India.

Following this social whirl we set off down Route 1 to LA where we would meet up with Sue & Terry. Now several people had said they didn’t recommend this road in a big rig, as it is very narrow and twisty.... but it was fine, and such a beautiful route, not to be missed. Most of the way the road follows the coastline which is very rugged and looks very much like Cornwall. We took about a week to cover the 440 miles and stopped in some interesting places.
Not only were the views stunning but, we continued to come across wildlife, Elephant seals, pelicans, dolphins and beautiful sunsets, something different at every turn.

One place we visited was Hearst Castle. Actually it is built in a Mediterranean revival Style with the main house built in the style of a Spanish Cathedral. The whole thing looks like a Spanish village.

Mucky WomenMucky WomenMucky Women

Graeme & Terry with 2 strange women.
rather strange but beautiful place was built by William Randolph Hearst (Newspaper tycoon). His family had “camped” in this area for many years. WRH named the area “The Enchanted Hill” and decided it was the perfect place to build a “small” summer house. The place ended up with 165 rooms, several guest houses and a 127 acre garden containing at one time many exotic animals.
Film stars, writers, politicians and sportsmen of the day gathered here, and it became famous for its parties.
One reason for Hearst’s love of this area was, the beautiful view. Unfortunately we can’t confirm this as, all we could see was lots of grey mist!

We found a really nice site at Pismo right on the beach, so decided to stay a couple of nights. Here you could watch the birdlife and great sunsets. One evening when we walked over the sand dunes for sunset ,we were met by the sight of what appeared to be hundreds of Pelicans whirling around in the sky.

Another fascinating thing we saw at Pismo was the winter migration of the Monarch Butterflies. Their usual lifespan is 6 weeks but the ones born in autumn live for
Sunset @ PismoSunset @ PismoSunset @ Pismo

We were parked just other side of Pismo Dunes. One evening As we climbed over the Dunes this sight met us.
6 - 8 months. They migrate from the Rockies to winter on the Californian coast, a distance of over 1,000 miles. At Pismo they arrive in great numbers, this varies from 50,000 this year to a maximum of 175,000 in 91 -92 ( don’t ask me who counted them) then in the spring they set back off north to lay their eggs in the milkweed plants, and die.

So, we went and looked for them in the eucalyptus trees, and despite there being several thousand of them we couldn’t see them. Then you realise that it is not leaves you are looking at, but thousands of butterflies. I don’t know what a butterfly phobia is called but if you have one this is not the place for you.

Nearing LA ,we chose to stay in Malibu, in a really nice cliff top site overlooking the ocean. From our window we could see dolphins swimming with the boats and watch more wonderful sunsets (getting routine now).

From this site we were on the right side of LA to meet up with some friends of Graeme’s called Ian & Margie. Graeme met Ian when touring with the 21st Century
Morning stroll on Pismo BeachMorning stroll on Pismo BeachMorning stroll on Pismo Beach

A nice way to start the day.
Schizoid Band. Ian has played drums for years with many people, some you may have heard of such as Bob Dylan, & Don Henley.
Now despite short notice and busy schedules Ian & Margie gave us a great tour of the area. They did know we were getting closer though as our post had started arriving at their house which is always a clue of our impending arrival.
We were lucky enough to time our arrival with the launch of Ian’s new album so we all went to LaVelee jazz club for that. It was an excellent evening. Without thinking I had worn a crimson coloured top, and when queuing for the rest rooms, didn’t understand it when a woman said “I was going to wear crimson, but its so passé “I just thought “what a strange thing to say”. It wasn’t until later, when telling Graeme, he pointed out that I was in a venue full of King Crimson fans who had come to see Ian (who used to be in King Crimson) playing jazz interpretations of King Crimson music in a band named Crimson Jazz Trio……
I then looked around and realised that there was an unusual amount
Pelicans @ PismoPelicans @ PismoPelicans @ Pismo

It is fresh water in the foreground & sea behind. We watched a huge group of Pelicans swooping around and then they just vanished. On mass they looked quite prehistoric
of red about..

We moved from Malibu to meet Sue & Terry. Now there is a limited choice of RV Parks in cities and they are often not so nice. Of the 4-5 choices we had, we picked “Orangland” in Orange as it had large sites, was near to Disney, had a lovely pool and Jacuzzi and you could pick your own oranges, lemons & limes. By sheer coincidence it was also 5 minutes walk away from the Arrowhead Pond Stadium, the venue where Paul McCartney was playing for 2 nights.

Now by the law of averages our luck must run out soon, but ….. Graeme knows Pab who has been McCartney’s front of house sound engineer for several years. In spite of the fact the tour had been sold out for months he was able to arrange for us to see the show from the mixing desk.
It was a fabulous show, the band rocked, the sound excellent, loud but clear and the lighting effects spectacular. It was also the show where they linked up live with the space station. An event even my Mum had heard about on the news! Paul McCartney played for about 2 ¾ hours. A great night.
Originally only 2 of us could go, so Graeme & Terry went and Sue & I settled down for the night as couch potatoes. Sue had just tucked in under a duvet when Graeme returned and said “quick you have passes as well” You have never seen 2 people move so fast.

Our week with Sue & Terry zipped by and was also a successful test of 4 people in the rig. As well as the musical nights out we went to Disney, Universal and Knotts Berry Farm where Terry did every whizzy ride. We visited the seaside & did some shopping. We spent a very happy hour in a unique shop in Orange. It sold the most incredible selection of Zoot suites, in all colours, Gangster type overcoats, sequinned jackets, DJs and hats (think 1920s or Bugsy Malone) We had trouble getting Terry out until he had made a purchase! All too soon we waved Sue & Terry off.

We then moved back to Malibu and met up with Fran, (who we knew 10 years ago when she lived in Watford) and Andrew. Fran took us to Venice (yes it does have
Thanksgiving TurkeyThanksgiving TurkeyThanksgiving Turkey

This is the sort of thing that keeps us so entertained. This chicken had to be deflated due to high winds one day. The strangest thing we have seen is a very large carved camel
canals) and showed us some local sights. The weather was about 80F and it was just as I imagined an LA beach to be. There were aged hippies, trendy young things, cyclists, roller bladers, dog walkers, muscle men working out and people just waiting to be seen. Great

We have also been lucky enough to be invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner.

After all this eating, drinking and merrymaking we are going to head to Palm Springs for a while to do some hiking and to plan our visit to Mexico. It is a different experience ahead as Mexico is not so geared up for “big rigs” and we need to be a bit more organised re where we stay. Our next deadline is to be in the Yucatan for the end of Jan to meet Trish & Neal. That’s about 3,500 interesting miles to drive, better go……….

Treatment = $1,350
Cost of Na Chloride solution was $108.75 Think of that the next time you tip the remainder down the sink!!!
If we had known would have asked for the remainder to take home.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Prime parking postionPrime parking postion
Prime parking postion

One of the best spots yet overlooking Malibu beach. We could watch the Dolpins swim by

24th November 2005

poor moi
Sorry to hear about your accident Moi, hope you are feeling okay now. Just goes to show too much excercise isn't good for you so we don't do a lot!! It looks like you are having a fab time. The weather sounds wonderful to; it is bitterly cold here. We look forward to your updates, they are full of great info about the places you are travelling through. Must go now as nearly midnight and I am at uni tomorrow. Take care and love to you both. Caroline, Kim Alex and Harrietxx
25th November 2005

Hi Moira and Graeme . It snowed here last night so reading about the beach and sunshine kind of strange ,we still have no heating and 1/4 roof to finish .Pismo beach is lovely ,i remember thinking i could have lived there. I stayed in Moro bay (?sp ) . Still sounds as if you are having a lot of fun ,I am so glad i didn't get the full hospital experience when i had my tour of a hospital in Hanoi ,mind you would have been a darn site cheaper. Talk to you soon ,i am in the house hibernating most of the time now . Lots of love Annabel.
25th November 2005

Hi Moira,I have enjoyed reading your blog in my leisure time, glad to hear you are both having a great time, it looks fantastic in the photos,very envious.. SORRY! had to chuckle at your bike escapade, but I know you would of done the same thing. Look forward to next episode x k
30th November 2005

Looking at the photo of the sea lions looks like fat wilfred asleep by the one heat source in the house.We have now had snow for the 2nd time and the builder felt so sorry for me last night in sub zero temps and a gaping hole above the back door that he offered me a bedromm at his house.No he is not a dirty old man but an old pensioner.I was tempted but coudldn't leave the poor furrey ones to freeze as Wilfred hogs the heat and doesn't give the other two a look in. Think of us in the cold and maybe send us over some warm weather. Lots of love Annabel

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