Leaving BS



Some times a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll give you that.  In this case, perhaps my way to describing events will be more interesting than a picture.  I’ll give it a try.

This a.m.  (Mar. 22) we packed up and left the desert oasis of BS.  And we headed up Montezuma Grade.  From the desert floor, the old Dog House lumbered turn after turn up the switchback mountain road.  Rayman was at the helm.  Moi was following in the toad since towing seemed a bit extravagant for the occasion.  Since we do not possess an altimeter, we are clueless how high the grade is at it’s peak.  Suffice it to say that it was about 12 miles from bottom to top.  And I’m not sure I could have walked it let alone sit on a pointy little bicycle seat and peddle all the way up.  Which is what our friends do.

The ride up is a study of California geology and flora.  Did not see a borrego, a snake, or a skunk, hence no fauna.  The huge rocks on either side of the road look like someone had tossed them willy nilly across the landscape.  The cacti soon gave way to trees.  First mesquite and then gradually to pine as we traversed country roads that were at an elevation of 3000 feet more or less.  Then as we dropped down from the summit, the trees most prevalent were the mighty oaks.  California is an amazing place and easy on the eyes.

These wandering roads we took lead us all the way to the 15.  In California-ese, we took the 15, to the 215, to the 118, to DeSoto Road.  Sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it?  However, what that entails is more or less taking one’s RV life in one’s hands.  OMG.  The trucks.  The cars.  The buses.  And us.  Oh, and don’t let me forget to inform the casual reader that it was extremely windy.  When on the two lane roads, it was hard to keep the monster on the road.  I know.  I was driving part of it.  For all you non-drivers of RVs, you owe a debt of deep gratitude to the driver.  It isn’t always easy.  If the lanes are generous, the traffic light, and the wind isn’t blowing, that’s one thing.  If, on the other hand, the wind is howling, the lanes are narrow (think LA freeways), and the freeways packed with cars, trucks, buses…it is hell on wheels to borrow that handy expression.

Life is full of trade offs.  So is driving an RV.  My preference is two lane roads.  Yes, we trap traffic behind us but it is just easier to navigate because of light traffic.  And it is always prettier.  The freeways of LA are a scourge.  LA.  The land of the strip malls.  What have we become?  This is what all that stolen water from Owens Valley and places north have wrought us?  A wall to wall group of strip malls.  All the names are the same.  Corporations have driven out the small business owners.  When politicians talk about creating jobs for the small business owner, I think that is pretty much a myth.  Restaurants and nail parlors and gyms and tire stores.  Perhaps those qualify.  However, most malls have McDonalds, Toys R Us, PetsMart, Best Buys, For all the traffic, where are the gas stations?  They aren’t easy to find.  OH, we long for France where each town is unique, with a core center where the boulangerie, the patisserie, the wine merchant that has a collection of wine bottles with dust on them.  The highway interchanges in France have cafes were a weary traveler can get a good meal for a reasonable price that has been cooked by people that make a living wage.

But I digress.

So, where did these roads lead?  To the Elks Lodge in Canoga Park which is right in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.  This place is beyond dense.  DeSoto, the main drag was three lanes wide in both directions.  Speed bumps are in every strip mall, or so it seems.  A far cry from the beginning.  See link below about Canoga Park.  The history is so much more interesting than the place now.

History of Canoga Park

The Elks Lodge has 8 spaces.  Us and one other couple with a mighty RV diesel pusher are sharing the area.  And we had the good fortune, to park directly under the street light that illuminates the parking lot here.  They have a huge parking lot.  They also have a grassy area with barbecue pits, tables and benches and misters hanging from the ceilings of the arbors that cover the patios.  It’s far from lovely but it is only $18/day and we didn’t want to drive all the way to wherever.  So, here we are.

Oh, and laws.  Southern California did not get the memo about the drought.  The average house here has a fine looking, green lawn.  There are lawns everywhere.  It is disgusting.  The way I see it, there would be an armed insurrection if the state split in two.  And it would be about the water.  These people live in a desert and they have made it green with water from the north.  For those so inclined, read Cadillac Desert.  One of the best books I’ve ever read about the water of California.

Anyway, back to the subject again.

This morning, we woke up  to  the sounds of trains, planes and garbage trucks.  Wednesday is garbage day in Canoga Park.  And the rule is, get the garbage picked up as early as possible, apparently.  Ah, the vagaries of RV living.  So, we will lift the levelers and move on.  We are hoping we can get a spot in Goleta for tonight.  If that doesn’t work out, it’s up to Lake Cachuma for two nights.

You’re probably wondering about the Rayman.  He was on his way to beating again last night (at Scrabble, you silly person) so we shook hands and called it a tie because we had fenced ourselves in so thoroughly that there was no where to go and about 50 tiles remained.  He also barbecued some lamb loin chops last night that were to die for.  For my part, I had defrosted some wonderful beans, or so I thought.  When I placed them in the pan to heat them up, I was completely taken back.  They were pearl onions with corn and cream and, apparently jalapeños.  Left over from Thanksgiving of this year or last!!  We looked askance at them and ate them anyway.  Not bad but not beans either.  Rayman was gracious.  He didn’t even mutter the obvious, “Why don’t you label things?”.  He just sat there and ate them like a man!!!

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