We made it out of the airport just in time, on the 7:55 a.m. to Los Angeles, on December 26, my birthday. Flights for the afternoon had already been cancelled. The torrential rains in Southern California had ended, and the sun came out in Oregon. What luck!
After visiting with my family in L.A., the plan was to drive up to San Jose via Route One, a true challenge for a couple of women terrified of heights. I warmed us up by driving through Topanga Canyon, across Mulholland Drive and back down. I drove through the part of Mulholland that is closed down, but soon remembered that my car was a rental and turned back. Clara was thankful for the Jesus handle. The air quality in LA was amazing! You could see the snow capped mountains from all around–it wasn’t hot, but we weren’t buried in two feet of snow.
With the exception of some smaller mudslides, which were cleared out pretty quickly, we easily made it up to Hearst Castle, publisher William Randolph Hearst’s over-the-top creation at San Simeon, for a sunset tour. The architecture was impressive, the view–beautiful, the pools were amazing and our tour guide—a well informed and sarcastic former middle school teacher—was fabulous.
In Cambria, we had a lovely dinner at Robbins. While waiting for our table, we went shopping in this quaint little town and even attended a wine tasting at Fermentations. I liked the Zin–Clara preferred the Ports. We got the wine glass for free and actually got it home intact.
Our room at the San Simeon Pines resort was right across the street from the beach. We had a lovely little fireplace with chemically flammable objects in it. It poured that night.
Four miles north of Hearst Castle resides a large sea lion population–lolling about, howling, fighting, sleeping and giving birth. Thank God it wasn’t mating season.
Cliffs, bridges over huge gorges, dangerous downhill-weaving pencil-thin roads—all frighteningly beautiful, but the scariest part of this journey is when you look ahead and see that this drive is going to go on for a very long time, with no chance of escape, no routes out anywhere, so you are committed to seven hours up and all around: don’t look down!
We made it to and had lunch in Monterey. Had a drink at Mac’s in San Jose and flew to Portland, Oregon, the next morning to hang out with friends for New Year’s. Gail picked us up and off we headed for salmon eggs Benedict with hash at and butt-whoopin’ coffee at Helser’s, which is in the Alberta Arts District. Did you know that they don’t pay sales tax in Portland, but that you have to repair your own streets? Go figure.
We visited Oregon’s Multnomah Falls and leisured at the Bonneville Hot Springs spa—just over the border in Washington. My friends Jeffrey and Billy live in the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland. Their fireplace was roaring, the house is gorgeous, and Jeff has renovating plans for the rest of time. Everyone had a Jacuzzi, and we took advantage.
New Year’s consisted of Thai food from Chaba Thai on Sandy Blvd and hours of X-box. We watched the ball fall at 9 pm and at 12. Old pictures, stories, seals, games, road trips–we are home
now recovering from our vacation. Our next holiday will involve a cruise.
Happy New Year, all—see you on Fire Island!