One would think from reading my last post that I was disappointed with California, that it had not been what I thought it would be. You would be partially right, it was not what I thought it would be and the LA that I thought I was meant to live in turned out to be the place I have tried not to revisit since...but California has a laid back way that gets you smiling, gets you pondering and got me wanting to live there. It was San Francisco, now for anyone who cares to take a moment here (as I did not do then) you can see that this will be a move to - oh yeah the closest to a New York city type location that there could be in California. Gary and I decided we would do it together...I would finish my masters that spring and in July well, off we would be. My lovely mother, did tell me how I was breaking her heart by moving so far away, my father thought it was a waste of time (European parents have a timetable for their children and moving for no reason other than you want to 5000 miles away is a BAD deviation).
My friend Gary and I packed up our meager belongings, took our 2 cars and enlisted my best friend and her then boyfriend to come with us. We were going to drive cross-country, I was going to see America and I was going to become a Californian! Our first stop was Sandusky, Ohio - wrinkled brows and curious glances must have happened when you read this...but it is the home of some of the best rollercoasters in Cedar Point Park. On we went, seeing some really sad looking spots (Gary, Indiana) and some really gorgeous bits of nature. The US in it's vastness has some of the most gorgeous, diverse geography of any place in the planet. I realized quickly that most of the flat states were not for me and that I was getting antsy for some sort of urban spot. One Sunday we decided to discard all advice given to us, did not get gas at the"last stop", took a side road and plugged forward toward what appeared like a city (star on map - preGPS) called Rock River, Wyoming. The road got darker, the needle on the gas got close to "E" for both cars, and just as it was beginning to feel like a bad horror movie locale the "Rock River - Welcomes You"sign saved us....only it was not a city by any definition we had. It had one light coming into town and we could see the other light that blinked goodbye as you left town. We went to a phone booth and I was told that the operator had gone to bed for the night and I was reaching some other town...oh it was a Twilight Zone moment alright. We saw a woman walking into her house and we rushed at her, she did close the screen door quickly, but directed us to the "you are lucky it just opened" cabin motel down the road. A young guy and his mother ran it, yeah yeah we did the Norman jokes too. The place was clean and nice for $25 a night! The next day for some reason Elli and I craved croissants (the guys told us we should aim for Wonder Bread and butter)...got our gas at the Feeds N Needs since the one gas station in town had a broken pump and took off for Medicine Bow (a city we were told - not so much we found out - but it did have more than 2 lights). We had breakfast at a bar, only place that was open, with the owner. He was one of the most humble and kind people I ever met. He had hand painted the celing and floors, he thought it was funny that we had brought our car radios in (he apparently had never locked any doors in his life - not car, home, work) and had never really been far from his home. It was almost like stepping back in time; no crack epidemic, broken into cars for radios, had altered his behavior in this place. At the end we went to pay him for the toasted bread and coffee and he laughed and said "Pay for coffee...why that is like paying for water"...we left him a crazy tip.
The rest of our trip was less eventful, a black out while eating buffalo burgers in a small diner in North Dakota, a glimpse of Mt Rushmore, the purple mountains of Utah (by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen), the seediness of Nevada (discovering the hard way that chicken fried steak is code for grizzled chicken and not pounded steak - I gag writing this), the mountains and warmth of Sacramento and most of all the feeling that we had finally arrived. I love the fact that we got to drive cross-country, that I found that most Americans are humble, kind, warm, happy to just make ends meet, and most of all that I am not meant to live anywhere but the coasts. Now that we had arrived the adventure was to begin....
If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there...the Mamas & the Papas