Dateline: Yreka, 3/24/08
I'm on my way to Portland, OR, for a Bead Expo. I'm in the mood for a road trip, so I'm driving to Portland, about 700 miles from home. I'm allowing 3 days to get there, 4 days there, and 3 more days to drive home. The last time I did a road trip like this was a year and a half ago, and it included a different Portland. As soon as I knew that I wouldn't be working full time, I signed up for the Y2Knit retreat in Vermont. I also decided to go to Stitches East in Baltimore. I flew to Portland, ME and drove to Vermont, then to Baltimore via New York and New Jersey, visiting friends and family along the way.
For this trip I've got my own Prius instead of a rental car. It's nice not to have to worry about driving an unfamiliar car, and whether I'll have room for the things I take with me or buy along the way. And I've forgotten how I ever got anywhere before I had a car with a GPS.
People are sometimes surprised that I would want to make this kind of trip by myself. I'm somewhat of a loner, and I enjoy being by myself. I got used to traveling by myself by doing a lot of business travel in the 70's and 80's. I feel a great sense of freedom on a road trip by myself. I can stop wherever I want, eat wherever I want, linger in yarn and bead stores as long as I want. I don't mind driving long distances, as long as the weather is ok and I have my iPod or a good alternative rock station to keep me company.
This morning I drove about 4 hours with only one 5-minute stop at a rest area. After I left all the Bay Area traffic behind, it was smooth sailing up 505 and then north on I-5. The speed limit was 70 and there was not much traffic. I was tempted to stop at the Olive Pit in Corning, but I didn't want to be dissuaded from my original plan. By the time I saw the sign that the Olive Pit had free wireless, I was already passing the exit and it was too late. So I continued on to Redding, a town about the size of Redwood City at the northernmost point of California's Central Valley. Yaks Koffee, which I found on the web, proved to be a great place for lunch, a friendly and comfortable cafe with good food and free wireless. The coconut cream mocha was as good as it sounded when I read about it on the website. Starbucks is always a familiar friend when I'm on the road, but if I can find a good, local, non-chain cafe I'm always eager to try it.
I was skeptical about Sew What because it is mostly a quilting store, but it also has a respectable yarn department. I enjoyed visiting The Beadman. Half of the store has beads, and the other half has tie-dye, belly dancing costumes, and other hippieish items. I bought a lime green tie-dyed teeshirt, some seed beads, and a book about beading spirals (I've recently learned to make Russian spirals and spiral ropes). The store gave me a 10% discount for admitting that I was over 55.
As I left the city that bills itself as "the second sunniest city in the nation" (it doesn't say who comes in first) it was raining. I was about to start the shorter but more difficult part of today's drive, into the Cascade Mountains. I had seen snow on the mountains on the way up I-5 so I was worried about snow and ice, but the road was clear, despite ominous signs saying "ICY", "Watch for Snow", and "Chain Installation, right shoulder only". There was some spectacular scenery, especially as I passed Shasta Lake, and the sun came out again. I took a detour through Weed, mostly because of the name, and got lost in some nice countryside where there was snow on the ground despite temperatures in the 50's. The GPS had nothing to say, and I finally blundered my way back to I-5.
Yreka (pronounced "why-reek-a") is an old gold mining town in very northern California, close to the Oregon border. I've got a motel room for the night. I'm now about half-way to Portland, leaving plenty of time for exploring Oregon tomorrow and Wednesday.