Location: Groveland Motel (map)
Miles: 1076.3

I’m sitting on the porch of my little cabin. I can see the moon, and it seems happy enough, happy as a slot car on an oval track. None of that figure-8 nonsense where you bash into another moon and your doors fly off. The highway is reasonably quiet now, but the occasional Harley does raise a ruckus. Overall, there’s not much to interfere with my peace. There’s a cricket chirping nearby, but far enough away that it’s therapeutic; any closer and I’d want to stomp the noisy little bastard.

I suppose, for those of you glued to your seats back home, that I should tell you something about my trip. It was a good drive.

The normally reliable California highway signage let me down, but I dealt with it. Had I studied the map a wee bit more closely I would have known that 280 south became, without announcement, 680 north. Goddamn number bastards. Even numbered highways aren’t even supposed to go north and south anyway. I had been looking for the junction with 680 as the cue to start looking for signs for the wee road I intended to take over the mountains. Goddamn road was long gone before I even realized I was on 680, dammit. [Note – I’m feeling fiesty tonight. There will probably be some more gratuitous dammits.]

One pleasent side effect was that I took a shortcut off the freeway that put me right through downtown Livermore, which looked like a pretty cool place. My fondness for the old downtown was profoundly (and not kindly) affected by the series of housing developments I passed on the outskirts of Livermore that looked like apartment complexes but were actually single family homes. Castles might be a better word for these things. Castles crammed together in a ‘Castle Zone’. Yes, sir, my kind of livin’.

So havig missed my ideal highway, which I will find on the way back to the bay area Monday, I struck West on I-580. Until is was 205, or something like that. Driving through California’s central valley I reflected on the fact that I was passing through the most productive farmland in the world – so productive that the ground water is poisoned by nitrates from the fertilizer.

In the valley is a town called Oakdale. I have appended it’s name – It is now “Oakdale, city of irony”. First, there was the huge sign, which said something like “Dammit! Oakdale is the bomb! Love them oaks!” I may not have that exactly right. What made this sign special was the enormous pile of firewood stacked nearby. I wonder what kind of tree that wood came from.

Second, there was the sign welcoming me to Oakdale. It showed a string of paper people like you cut out in preschool. The sign said something like “Welcome to Oakdale, a community united against drug abuse.” Admirable, I’m sure you’ll agree. 25 feet past that sign was one that said simply “cocktails”, with a picture of a martini. A few feet farther on was Whiskey River Saloon and Cocktail Lounge. Let’s all fight it together.

The trip according to music:
Scotts Valley to Freemont: Fluffy
Freemont to Livermore: X
Livermore to Tracy: Mary’s Danish
Tracy to ranger station: Havana 3am
Ranger station to hotel: Stiff Little Fingers

If you look to the west of Groveland (map), you will see a twisty, twisty road. I followed a stinkin little toyota mile after mile up the road as it crept along. Finally, at the very top of the road, it pulled me over to let me pass. I went through the last few corners and got onto straight road, only to have the goddamn little red car riding my ass. Yearrgh.

Had dinner at the Iron Door, and stayed for the band, the Wingnut Adams Blues Band. They were pretty darn good. I was impressed on the first song when the drummer did the singing. The guitarist was awesome, but the Spinal Tap facial expressions and some of his other histrionics were pretty silly in such a small place. It’s a fine line between showman and dork.

While waiting for the band to start, I was sitting at the bar having my buffalo burger and I managed to kick up a conversation with the guy next to me. OK, he kicked it up. He was taking a break from studying for the bar exam. When I told him what I was up to, it was almost embarrassing how much he gushed at first, but he proved good at asking questions and it occurred to me that I am very fortunate to be able to do my tour. Not many people will ever have the option to do something this dumb.

I’ll get some pics up here pronto, dammit!

Ooo! John! one more thing! There’s a company up here call Zoo-phonics. You could get a job there and move to the middle of nowhere!

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