Last week, we went down to San Diego for a quick(ish) trip to visit my brother and his wife. We left Tuesday afternoon after I was off work, drove all day Wednesday, and then returned on Monday—doing the full San Diego to Bend drive in one day. I won’t recount the full blow-by-blow here (and I’m blogging my beer notes of the trip on The Brew Site, of course), but just a series of notes, observations, and tidbits.
(A big reason for the visit was because my brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first child this August, and the baby shower was on Saturday. So we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.)
At about three and a half hours from Bend, Weed is a town you can’t ignore: it’s the junction of Highway 97 and Interstate 5, and is the first "real" town you hit in California when traveling down 97. (I’d count Dorris, but that seems more like a truck stop/border crossing than a town.) I find the town fascinating: its population is exactly 3000, it sits in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, and in many ways it’s the gateway to Northern California.
And it’s like Bend in several ways: it had its start as a lumber town, has a similar climate and the same elevation, and now derives a good portion of its economy from (mountain) tourism. What little I’ve seen of it—besides the fast food restaurants and gas stations marking it as an Interstate connector—seems charming and picturesque.
Tuesday night we stayed in Anderson, California (just south of Redding) at the Gaia Anderson hotel. Even though it was just a waypoint on the trip, it was actually quite a nice place for a really good price. It’s new and built to "green" specs—energy efficient, with water conservation in mind, and organic and health-conscious. And it’s just off the freeway, which was convenient.
The drive that first afternoon—Bend to Anderson/Redding—took us about 4 hours and 45 minutes. The next day, we drove about 11 hours through to San Diego, hitting rush hour Los Angeles traffic and losing about an hour and half to it.
I completely hate Los Angeles traffic. And that pretty much mars the whole city for me.
Driving through central California, south of Sacramento on that long, lonely stretch of I-5, is long, tedious, and a bit depressing. Desert and failed agriculture, with communities that only seem to have sprung up to service the Interstate. How people can live there is beyond me.
And it’s crazy hot, from Redding on down; on our return trip, it was 105 degrees in Redding! At one point the kids wanted to open the windows so I let them briefly. It was like opening an oven door.
After Wednesday, we were in San Diego four full days before returning on Monday. It was a great trip, and the weather—which had been forecasted to be 70 and overcast the entire time—actually turned out sunny, clear, and nicely hot (but not too hot).
Which was a good thing, because Friday we hit the beach and had a great day—the water is cool but much warmer than the Oregon Coast, so we were able to actually, you know, go in it. My brother and I spent most of the time out in the surf, while I kept an eye on the kids and the women stayed on the beach. At one point I was far enough out so that when a wave crashed over me—intentionally—I couldn’t touch bottom. That was a bit spooky.
Sunday we all went to the San Diego Zoo. Something like 16 of us total. It was a bit chaotic, but a good day. And it was hot—the hottest day in San Diego since we arrived. There were several sunburned people to show for it.
Interesting fact I learned (but didn’t personally verify): apparently the Howard Johnson on Hotel Circle has a lifesize Hulk Hogan statue in the lobby.
As much as I dislike Los Angeles, I like San Diego. The big negatives are (obviously) the traffic and the urban sprawl; everything is very spread out, along freeways, and tuned to the stripmall. Something might be "just across the freeway" but to cross it you might have to jump on, exit a mile down the road, loop around and cross another exchange just to get there. But for that, it’s appealing and likable. And of course, it’s a great beer town.
Not much to say about the Monday drive home except that we went straight through (stopping only for gas, bathroom breaks, and fast food), and made it in 14.5 hours. We left at about 7:30 in the morning and were home by about 10 that night. The kids held up remarkably well, better than I hoped. So it’s doable—but I’m not sure I’d want to do it again.
Although you do save money if you don’t stay overnight…