When you're heading out on the road, filled with optimism and nerves and adventure, everything seems fresh and shiny. By the last day, you're beat, reduced to taking pictures of the exterior of Ostrichland.
Hell no, we didn't see the Ostriches. No way I was paying $4 each plus $1 for each pan of food to be bossed around.
But let me back up.
The PCH though Malibu
We left LA after breakfast with Cordelia and Ruthie, took the 10 to the 1 and drove the PCH through Malibu. Hoorah! The ocean! After all that desert, getting back to the ocean -- "my" ocean -- loosened something in my heart. Yes, we were almost five hundred miles south of home, but we were back in familiar, coastal territory.
In Malibu, we stopped to chat with John Evans at DIESEL, A Bookstore's Malibu branch. I've patronized DIESEL since it was in the Emeryville Market, down a windy outdoor corridor from the food court, next to the video arcade. (Does anybody but me remember that?) Then, of course, he and Alison moved the bookstore to College Avenue in Oakland. They hosted readings by my writer's group in the early nineties, they hosted my very first "real" reading when my first book came out, and many others ever since. A few years ago they opened a branch in Malibu and have been commuting up and down ever since.
It was great to see John all surf-y, and the shop looked great. His big news: they're opening another branch of DIESEL in Brentwood. At a time when so many independent bookstores are closing, it's great to see this one do so well.
Highway 1 to Highway 101
Up the coast. Everywhere is hazy from the fires, overcast and relatively cool. Highways 1 and 101 entwine and blend and separate and blend again for a while, but because of the fires, we decided to follow 101 inland, avoiding Big Sur. At Builliton, we stopped for gas and to drive the four miles to The Wierdness That Is Solvang. But on the way in, Ostrichland.
I have no words.
I love driving 101, its classic Californian rolling golden hills, views of the ocean, the rusting Mission bells marking it as the old El Camino Real. I love that this road goes on for 1,500 miles... and that's where I ran into trouble.
I was driving through the Santa Maria area, watching the road, fully aware of myself driving along 75, 80, 85 in the fast lane, heading north, and suddenly at the same time I was high above the car, tracking our progress up the state, as if watching us from a plane. It was only 3:00-something in the afternoon, though, way too early to stop. Next to me, Annie zoned out too, listening the The Red Hot Chili Peppers on her iPod.
I had her take her ear buds out and explained that I was in two places at the same time, and she casually said, "Oh that happens to me sometimes," and I said, "I'm not so sure it's safe to drive like this," and she said, "Yeah, I think you're right," and all the while I could see the top of our little black Mini Cooper, a small ant far below, inching our way up the California landscape.
So I pulled off the road in Paso Robles and drove slowly through town until I found a Foster's Freeze. Sitting at a picnic bench at the back of the parking lot, we ate our ice milk -- small vanilla twisters dipped in chocolate.
"This is so much better than Dairy Queen," I said.
"Because Dairy Queen is white. This is yellow," I explained solemnly. Then I had a moment of clarity, "I think we need to find a motel room for me NOW."
"Mommy, I think you're right."
But the motels we saw had the letters drooping and dripping from their signs and rusted-out cars in the lot, and besides, the creamy, slightly-yellow Foster's Freeze had cleared my head and there was only one of me.
We made it to Salinas, ate dinner at a wonderful fish house, and slept in a Holiday Inn Express. Today -- the Steinbeck Center, a two-to-three hour drive, and home, home, home home homehomehomehomehomehommmmmme....
Photo gallery here: http://www.redroom.com/gallery/road-trip-2008-ostrichland-and-other-oddity
P.S. -- as I checked my email this morning, this message from Madagascar Man:at airport in tana, about to board!!!!!!!!!! see you soon. me
We'll be home today; he'll be home tomorrow!