So, we finished our breakfast, had a little interface with the local authority, and then headed for Monterey. If we’d had more time, we would have explored San Francisco a little more. San Fran is wonderful. And, it is full of amazing foto opportunities. There will be a next time, for sure.

Always remember to remove the polarizing filter from the lens on cloudy days. Pictures look like crap if you don’t. Sure, you can salvage the shot by getting all artzy fartzy and claiming grainy B&W fotos are chic…but, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a pig. Also, it’s always a good idea to make sure BBQ potato chip bits don’t attach themselves to the camera lens via the magic of static electricity. After several shots people will surely realize the same two birds couldn’t have been in the exact same place over the course of several days and multiple locations.

Monterey is also wonderful. I could live there. Granted, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. And, one look at the homes on 17 Mile Drive gives plenty of proof of that fact. But still, it is a beautiful place. We took loads of good fotos along the the famed coastline…called “The Greatest Meeting Of Land And Sea” for a reason…and checked into a nice little hotel. It was New Years Eve and we were asleep by 9:00 pm local time. So much for partying…

As perfect as Monterey was, Bakersfield and the Central Valley were unbelievably hazy/foggy. I’d expected it to be the other way around actually. There’s no predicting the winter weather in California apparently. But, once we climbed the mountains east of the Valley and ventured into the desert area of California we saw lots of sunshine…and lots of empty spaces. The Mojave Desert is a no mans land. Beautiful in its own special way, but empty nonetheless.

Every speed limit sign in California includes another sign with larger letters on which it says “Enforced by radar”. One wonders where the confusion lies…why the second sign is necessary…surely people realize radar technology has been around since WW2 and is used by the police to nab speeders?

By nightfall we’d gotten to the Arizona border and we decided to drive through the night. This decision meant we wouldn’t stop at the Grand Canyon or the Petrified Forest. But, by this time we were starting to get tired of driving.

Why are Deer Crossing signs different in every state, by the way? Granted some of the signs we saw were instead Elk Crossing or Mule Deer Crossing signs. But surely all of the various state highway departments in this grand country could all use the same sign. It doesn’t have to be different.

Texans (and no, I’m not specifically referring to myself here) drive 20 mph over the speed limit EVERYWHERE…in every state…with apparent impunity…just thought I’d point out that little fact. But, Penske puts a speed governor on their trucks. So, we were forced to stay below 75 mph. As such, we were unable to keep pace with our Texan brethren.

Moonlight reflecting off the snow in the Arizona High Country Near Flagstaff in the middle of the night makes for a very beautiful scene.

We saw a plethora of interesting License Plates along the way. Here are a couple I remember –
“RDDVL” – the car was NOT red, by the way.
“Pudding” – I really hope the owner/driver was female…although that still wouldn’t make any sense.
“RGRTFAM” – the minivan included little stickers/decals on the back window of a name and a pair of feet for a total of 8 people. Maybe RGRTBIGFAM wouldn’t fit on the plate.

Every truck stop now advertises wifi access. Ahhh, the potential for humor there…

Albuquerque had been blasted by the snowstorm and was still buried when we drove through. Luckily for us, the Interstate had been plowed. But, from what we could tell, nothing else had been.

By dawn we hit the Texas state line. The feeling of relief, though, was quickly dampened by the realization that a good 8 hours of driving still had to be completed. Texas is a honking big state, especially when driving from Amarillo to anywhere.

We noticed one very important fact along the way…the closer we got to Texas, the cheaper gas was…very curious…

Late afternoon saw us pull into the driveway…and after 2700 miles and 6 big western states, we were done. It felt good to be home. It was an interesting journey.

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