Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vicious & Wreck: Road Trip (Part 1)

Ten years ago, on 8 July 2002, I set out for a study abroad program that took place at University College Dublin in Ireland.  That experience in itself is a whole other story, but it was on that trip that I met one of my best friends, Vicious.
Dublin, Ireland – Summer 2002 – Vicious (20), Wreck (19)
The Vicious & I got our nicknames when she lived across the hall from me at UCD and one night, she and I and about 6 others in our building got very, very drunk and thought we were in a band.  While we were there we spent most of our time drinking, swearing at each other whilst playing Thirteens, harassing the French bartender at our favourite pub, listening to the Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels soundtrack, and laying on the floor reading Trainspotting out loud to each other in Scottish accents (of varying accuracy).  We also apparently went to class once in a while, because both of us actually passed our courses.

When we returned state-side, despite not living across the hall from each other any more, and despite periods of large distances, various boyfriends, schools, and other crazy life stuff, she and I stayed in touch, unlike almost everyone else in our program.  And no matter how much time passed between hangouts and adventures, we've stayed close all this time – and even more so in the past few years once we were both back in the Bay Area on a permanent basis.

In April, this email arrived: I'm wondering if you bitches were free the days around July 2 to go on a trip.  I'm thinking maybe a weekend in Los Angeles? Or Las Vegas? Or somewhere new like Ukiah?  Portland?  Boise?  Klamath Falls?

I will be... the big three-oh.

So awful it cannot be comprehended fully.  

In other words, I wanna run away for my birthday, and I'd like you grrrls to be my accomplices (or kidnapped whores, your choice).



ps- Texarkana?  Montreal?  Orlando?  Milwauake? How do you spell that?  Carmel by the Sea?  Mendicino?  Reno?  The place where dreams go to die?

I immediaty wrote back with: EFF YES. I am totally in.

We hadn't traveled together in nearly 10 years, but I knew that wasn't going to make a difference.  I started working on a very specific road-trip mix for the occasion.  This was going to be epic.

Based on that first email Vicious sent, there was a lot of talk about where we could realistically drive to in the approximately 72 hours we had blocked off for this trip (leaving after work Friday afternoon and being back for work Tuesday morning).  We went a little google maps crazy and may have forgotten that we'd need to calculate in sleeping – at one point, I think we were talking about making it to Canada and back... But ultimately, we decided to drive Hwy 1 towards the Lost Coast, and see where we end up.

That Friday afternoon we loaded up my car, Kingsley, with way too much for a three day trip (since we had no idea where we would end up, we each brought about 4 pairs of shoes, swimsuits, a dress, jackets, shorts, jeans, and of course, a towel), and headed for our first and only real planned stop on our trip: Mill Valley.

Vicious and I had decided to spend the first night in the Bay Area's back yard for a couple of reasons:
  • We didn't know how late we would be leaving or what the traffic would be like, and it would give us a fresh start in the morning.  
  • We knew we would be able to eat there – she's a vegan and I'm gluten free! – and we ended up finding a Thai place that catered to both of our dietary needs.  
  • We tentatively planned to start our adventures in Muir Woods the next morning, complete with references to Vertigo and 12 Monkeys.
So, that night we settled into our motel room over an Indian restaurant and giggled ourselves crazy late into the night.  It was just like old times, minus the booze and plus Avengers snap-bracelets.


It was quickly apparent that Muir Woods was not going to happen on the Saturday before 4th of July.  We were directed to the overflow parking where we were going to have to wait for a coach to bring us to the park.  As we scarfed down some nut bars, we were ushered into a queue of hikers, tourists, and families.  Now, Vicious and I are very good a queuing (owing, we think, to time spent in the UK and Disneyland), but as we looked around us, we realized that this was dumb. We had driving to do, the coast to see, and Muir Woods is so close, we could get to that later.  So, we hopped back in Kingsley and headed towards Stinson Beach.

The fog was still pretty thick until we rounded the corner and arrived officially at the beach, which was perfect timing.  We wandered up and down the beach, had ice cream (or sorbet, in Vicious' case) for brunch at a wonky ice cream shop/video rental shop/trinket store, and then decided that Point Reyes would be our next stop for some proper lunch.

In Point Reyes we realized being just this far out of the Bay Area was going to present some food challenges – Vicious claimed it would be easier for her to eat Vegan; I claimed Gluten Free would be easier.  She ended up having to basically go vegetarian for the trip, but damn, you should have seen the look on her face when she realized I could essentially order a burger without a bun and voil√†! gluten free.

It was also at this point that we realized that my trusty iPhone was not going to be much use to us – I was quickly losing service.  So, we busted out the paper maps of California and plotted out the rest of the day's drive: we would head north, stay on 1, and see where that got us.

We passed through Bodega Bay (which is full of kite and salt water taffy shops) and discussed Free Willy; we admired all the houses and small towns, oohing and awing as we kept heading north, both of us swearing it would be worth the commute to live out here; decided to set a young adult story in Point Arena, as I accidentally drove through the high school grounds due to weird signage; stopped for gas and to take pictures of the dinosaurs in Gualala; and we're pretty sure we saw a ghost biker and a dead body along the side of the road (separate instances)!

Eventually we found ourselves in Fort Bragg around dusk.  It turns out that when you drive Hwy 1, it takes forever to go only a few hundred miles.

We had heard that Glass Beach was worth checking out, so we headed there as soon as we arrived and stood in the mist admiring the view.  Despite warnings from my co-worker, K, who is from Fort Bragg, I was expecting miles and miles of glass.  It was still rad to see what's left and did you know that the beach literally squeaks?! Did you know sand could do that?!

After driving around for awhile, trying to figure out where to eat and sleep, we ended up with a motel room and eating a late dinner of tater tots, nachos, and french toast – I admit this was not our finest hour, but they had tater tots on the menu, how could we resist!

All in all, the first full day of our trip was amazingly beautiful.  We had awesome music, and amazing conversation, and we fell asleep easily after a long discussion which was probably about Sherlock Holmes or Cabin Pressure – you know, like you do.

Fort Bragg – Summer 2012

Stay tuned for days 2 & 3!!

All pics by Wreck or Vicious

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