WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderNorth 14 epilog - San Francisco
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 17:59:52 -0700

    California. The best roads, the best weather, the worst prices. Why would gasoline which cost $1.89 in rural southeast Oregon cost $2.15 only 20 miles south? Because it is California. It is different even though you can't see a difference. You can feel a difference ... in your mind, and in your wallet.
    That, in general is the story of California, but in my opinion, it is worth it.

    Another (OTRA, if you remember from the first segment) trip is done. Another page is filled and folded in the book of memories. New treasures found and forgettable flubs can be fed into the sausage grinder that manufacturers the future's meaty links of remembrance, some tastier than others. Much thought baggage will just get stored in the basement of the subconscious to pop up in some future mental yard sale, prompted by unexpected stimuli ... like the unmistakable smell of "fresh laundry" in the air this morning caused by semi-alkali water vaporizing in the morning sun after being sprayed from massive rolling robot crop irrigators. Mix that with the sweet wafting of sage and you have an aroma the detergent companies would love to sell you. It's called America (... fragrance may vary in your neighborhood).

    I won't try to sell anyone else on California ... it's already too crowded, but I like it. I liked riding through the first town at the north end of Route 49, right about where the Gold Country begins. Loyalton was having a classic car show in the main street of the town. Fifty or so Monuments to Mo'town were lined up with hoods open, chrome blinding anyone who dared stand in their reflection. There were 50's and 60's Thunderbirds, StingRays, and a Cadillac that would need Coast Guard approval to make a u-turn. The nice thing about this big show in a small town was it was a show - not a production. Everyone was free to wander about and look, leisurely. The way a weekend morning should be.
    The further south Route 49 travels, the tighter it becomes, and seemingly so do its drivers. By the time I turned off toward I-80, you could feel the rush in the air. The slow enjoyment of 200 miles that took well over 4 hours from Oregon would condense into a frenetic flight of less than 3 hours for the remaining 200+ miles. And so, with so many salmon in tin cans around me, the rush to the coast was joined. It really felt good to sweat in the Central Valley, but then as I gassed up for the last 40 miles I put on a jacket in the 90+ degree heat, because the temperature would start dropping nearly one degree per mile as I aimed for the Fog.
    San Francisco waited, shimmering (or shivering) in the chill of its natural air conditioning. Back in the perennial traffic jam called the Bay Bridge, now I just looked like a dirty bike instead of a traveler with a windscreen bug collection 'from here to Alaska'.


447 miles
Lakeview US395 CA70 CA49 CA89 I-80
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

5206 miles total, average speed 56.9 mph

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