Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

The Road Goes On Forever

Much of what is the key to my enjoyment of a road trip is not really the destination, but in the "getting there" part of it.  While the destination is the ultimate end goal, the process of getting there is what I really enjoy and why I, more often than not, I love to get out on the road.  But today felt different in a lot of ways, and it took me a while to figure it out.
It was hard getting up this morning and getting motivated to get out on the bike.  I actually was sort of wondering "what's the point"?  It was after all sunny, with clear blue skies and a Sunday morning with no traffic -- perfect ingredients for a road trip.  But I wasn't "feeling" it this morning.  I could have kept sleeping, but then I wouldn't get as far down the road as I wanted to.  I struggled to get to my wake-up shower, which didn't make me feel any better, and I wasn't in the mood for breakfast.  I didn't like feeling that way -- and wondered if it was because there is really no "reason" for this trip other than "I can",and I like to wander.  I had some destinations and routes in my head, but they all went out the window with the weather and the timing, so unlike other trips there really is no discernible reason for this one.  Maybe that's it.  Maybe it's because I hadn't really decided where to go from here after spending two days with Dave and Elayne and the kids -- especially since I've given up on the idea of making it to Austin.

I had decided last night to keep going south and east -- it's where the storms aren't.  I planned on riding some additional sections of old historic Route 66 which always makes me happy.  So it dawned on me as I was riding today, it's because I was using today as just a way to get from where I was to where I wanted to be that I was feeling the way I was.  This was just a "bridge" day -- the day to get from Point A to Point B, and because it was that and there was no other reason, and nothing to do/see along the way that I must have been feeling the way I was.

Point A in this case was Dublin, CA -- Point B was either Barstow, CA or Kingman, AZ.  I'd be heading south on CA-99 through the San Joaquin Valley towards Bakersfield.  I suppose this could be considered a cousin to US-23 which has been named the Country Music Highway as it winds through Kentucky and Tennessee for all the old country stars who were born on it -- and its the road the hillbilly's took north to jobs during the depression.  The San Joaquin Valley is where the dust bowl Okies of the depression ended up, and Bakersfield is where Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Dwight Yoakum all come from -- and I had a playlist of them all loaded on my I-Pod.  However heading out of town my mood reminded me more of Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down".  

130 miles down the road in Fresno I stopped for lunch and decided I'd try IN-N-OUT burgers.  This chain is all over the south and southwest and in California -- but not in Seattle.  I have had friends rave about it, and have created a FaceBook page demanding they come to Seattle, and it's apparently all the rage.  There was a new one in Fresno so I thought "what the hell".  The line through the drive up went out on the street for half a block, and it was standing room only inside.  I ordered, and sat outside in the sun waiting.  It took a while, but they brought it out to me, and truth be told, it wasn't all that great.  You know I'm a burger fanatic -- and this one was good, but not that good.  Not enough to warrant the lines and the crowd.  It reminded me of when Krispe Kreme came to Seattle and Tony stood in line for three hours on opening day.  However, KK's are in my book, worth that wait.
After lunch the long boring drive down the Valley was made worse with the post-lunch sleepies.  I still wasn't really feeling it on this ride -- it felt like a day to endure and to just get as far down the road as I could.  The road felt like it went on forever. I really don't like feeling that way.  All down the valley it was clear it was election season too.  What I found puzzling and somewhat confusing is that most if not all of the congressional candidates were billing themselves as conservative and not as Republicans.  Last I saw we didn't have a "conservative" party here like in Canada or the UK.  We had "D's" and "R's".  It's clearly the "R's" way of pandering to the tea-baggers I'm sure, but to me "conservative" is more akin to "no"to everything and to "backwards" thinking and anger than it is to fiscal responsibility and less government -- i.e. libertarian.  I know I'd be a libertarian if it were politically feasible to be one.

In Bakersfield I turned east on CA-58, past the orchards dotted with oil wells which which mark the south end of the great San Joaquin Valley, and started the climb up the Tehachapi mountains.  And for some reason now I was feeling the joy of the ride -- perhaps as I realized I was going to make Barstow, and perhaps because I planned on getting off the main road and taking a side road for a bit up to a railroad engineering landmark I'd always wanted to stop and see -- Tehachapi Loop.  
It's a way for the railroad to gain a lot of elevation in a small space -- and it looks like a model railroad train-set.  The line circles around a small hill and doubles back over itself so trains go over/under themselves.  Railfans from all over come to watch and take pictures, so I wasn't alone.  It's just that there were no trains -- at least in the short time I had to stay and watch.  But the road to it was nice, and as old highways do, was dotted with some abandoned structures that I find so haunting and inviting at the same time.
After going over the Tehachapi's it's pretty flat and boring across the desert past Edwards Air Force Base and into Barstow.  It's an old railroad town along both the Union Pacific and BNSF mainlines, so there's lots of trains and noise.  It's also one of the main old towns along Route 66, and my hotel is on the old road -- one of the reasons I'm staying here.  I had dinner at "The one and only -- the original "Bun Boy", established in 1926" according to the menu.  However it clearly is not the original location -- this is an old Shari's, you can tell by the architecture.  None the less it was good, and I had strawberry pie that was more strawberries than pie. 

Back across the street at the Holiday Inn they even apologized for the railroad noise and there is a little flier in the room saying that even with triple-pane windows some guests find the noise bothersome and they do have free earplugs at the front desk.  Not for me.  I'll sleep tonite to the sounds of trains, and dreams of the old road heading east before the freeway.

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