CA Day 7 - Trees, Treats, and Tow Yards
Today started off very promisingly with a tip to a cute local bakery called Bernie’s. The shop was in an old Victorian-style building so it was really grand but also pretty homey. They made a nice cup of coffee, but if I’m being really honest with myself the thing that most caught my eye was this beautifully crispy sugary old school donut. It was flaky and sweet, and a great way to start the day.
The rest of the morning unfortunately did not live up to the sweetness to of the donut. Garrett and I drove back to Zoe and Jair’s neighborhood, and after about an hour of driving up and down the hilly streets we concluded that nope, we weren’t just drunk last night, it really wasn’t there. I felt like the ground had just disappeared from underneath me, and my brain right away jumped to all the worst possible outcomes assuming it had been stolen and that I would be stranded in the Bay Area with no laptop, clothes, or music. Luckily, Garrett was a bit more level headed, and suggested we call the SFMTA and see if it had been towed. We had both checked and double checked the parking signage last night and were pretty sure we had parked entirely legally, but whether or not we were right or wrong the car had been towed.
We made our way down to the impound, where we were told that even if my car had been wrongfully towed (as I still suspect it was) I would still have to pay the $300 fee for the tow and the night’s storage (how kind of them to hold onto it for us). I could contest the tow, but that would require being in San Francisco and probably going back in time to take a picture of my legally parked car, two things that were not really possible. My friend was very kind, and offered to split the cost because he felt somewhat responsible for selecting the parking spot. I didn’t think he needed to feel responsible, but he also said he would try to contest it for me so I took the kind offer in the hopes he would get all that money back from the city. (Unfortunately, I think life got in the way and he didn’t end up filing the complaint, so if you’re reading this Garrett, I appreciate you helping me get out of dodge and stay on my timetable and I owe you one!).
With my car back in my own possession and only a decent chunk of time and money wasted, I bid a fond farewell to my friend and started to make my way out of the Golden State. All that stressing about my vehicle though had caused my coffee to wear off so I decided to grab one more cup before I hit the road for the next 8+ hours.
I went to the first good coffee shop near me, because I knew I was burning daylight so I repeated myself and went to a cute little Ritual Coffee Roasters pop-up cart near a pretty public park called Patricia’s Green. The coffee was pretty tasty, but the real highlight for me was a massive 50ft LED sculpture called SQUARED by Charles Gadeken.
I liked the sculpture just as is, but I later learned that it was actually brought to the park after being built for Burning Man and all those little squares light up at night to make incredible visual displays to keep hippies and normies alike mesmerized. I wish I had seen it at night, but fortunately some noble music-festival-goer was able to record the piece in action:
With caffeine freshly re-introduced into my bloodstream, I started making my way up North toward Oregon. Some of my biggest regrets in California was that I didn’t have time take more advantage of the national parks, especially Yosemite and Sequoia. I really had hoped to see General Sherman, the world’s largest living tree, but fate kept me and that big barky boy apart.
To rectify my lack of natural wonders somewhat, I made sure to take the scenic drive through the Avenue of the Giants. This 31 mile long stretch of state highway through Northern California is flanked on both sides by a breathtaking number of gigantic sequoia redwoods. These staggering behemoths lived up to the name of the Avenue, with the largest one clocking in at 363 feet and the oldest ones coming in at just under a thousand years old! It makes all of humanity seem so small and fragile in comparison to be surrounded by these towering beauties that have survived so much, but it’s the nicer more reflective feeling small than the terrifying kind.
The avenue is long and filled with thousands of trees, but over the years some have become more famous than others. One that I was excited to get to see first hand was the One Log House, which is an entire functional home made from a single hollowed out Redwood tree that is 7’ high, 32’ long, and over 2000 years old! I didn’t get to take the tour of the insides, but it was still a pretty impressive bit of craftsmanship to take in from the outside.
Here’s a cute postcard from the inside so you get a sense of what it looks like:
One other famous tourist-y tree is the Drive-Thru Tree, which as the name implies is a Redwood so wide (21 ft across) and naturally split open enough that you can drive a car through it. The tree is privately owned so it costs $8 to actually drive through it which I didn’t feel like doing. Because I never left my car, I didn’t get a chance to take my own photo, but this one from google gives a pretty good sense of scale:
The Roadside Attraction, which I knew nothing about going into the drive, that blew me away the most was a cute shop called the Legend of Bigfoot, that featured dozens of amazing carved wood creations ranging from the practical, like baskets and furniture, to the wild, like a fairy tale gnome sculpture garden and the namesake Bigfoot statue. It was such a wonderful blend of quirky oddness and genuinely amazing skill that I couldn’t have been happier to have just stumbled into it.
The other advantage of making a roadside stop was that I finally had a good enough opportunity to just take a picture of this gorgeous avenue and its giants:
My next stop was in the fantastically named town of Eureka (I thought going in that it was where that tv show Eureka took place, but I guess that was in Oregon so the west coast is just filled with Greek exclamations). I was both very hungry and very in need of a stiff drink after all the towing and driving, the latter of which was beautiful but exhausting. I was in luck on both accounts to find an excellent brewpub called Lost Coast Brewery. Both the grub and the grog hit the spot with funky flavor combinations befitting the sense of discovery associated with the town’s name. For drinks, I got a flight of their Great White Beer, Alleycat Amber, Tangerine Wheat, Downtown Brown, and 8 Ball Stout. Naturally I favored the darker Brown Ale and Stout for their rich smooth flavors, but I liked everything and the Tangerine in particular pleasantly surprised me for actually not being too too sweet. All their logos also featured super weird cubist inspired art, so that was a big plus for me. For dinner, I got their Lost Coast Grinder, which consisted of turkey breasted roasted in their Great White Ale piled high with pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato, lettuce, and garlic aioli on a house-made roasted ciabatta. It was delicious, different, and very filling, but perhaps the most memorable part was that it came with a heaping helping of lemon peppered parmesan fries which were so crispy and flavorful that they took the whole meal to another level.
After dinner, I still had 3 more hours of driving to my Air BnB over the Oregon border. I don’t like to be rude, but this was one of the grossest air bnb’s I stayed in for my whole trip, with junk all over the floors and my “bed” (read couch) literally perpendicular to another couch where another person was staying. The couch wasn’t that bad, but they did not imply that there would be less than a foot between me and the other guest or that the host’s boyfriend would be playing video games in the living room/ my bedroom into the night and also early in the morning. Basically what I’m trying to say is that it did not feel like it worth $30 but spending too much money on inconveniences seems to be the bookends of this day so I guess things came full circle. \
Favorite Random Sightings: Chinese Medicine Works (I think it’s the name of the store but I like imagining it’s just a positive statement); Eat toast (I didn’t know toast needed to advertise); Just for fun and scribbledoodles (no clue); Cheap Pete's
Regional Observations: The cell reception in the woods of Northern California was really low, but picked right up in the woods of Southern Oregon. My best guess is that more people actually live in the woods in OR, but there’s probably a lot of factors
Albums Listened To: Soul and Edge: The Best of Johnny Paycheck by Johnny Paycheck (classic country that I would never have known about if not for Mike Judge’s fantastic Tales from the Tour Bus); Soul of a Woman by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (a lovely farewell album to a latter day soul legend); The Sound of ‘69 by Crazy Baldhead (surprisingly great punk and reggae covers of songs from 1969); The Sounds of Science by the Beastie Boys (just Root Down); Soundtrack of Walker by Joe Strummer (a great soundtrack to a very lackluster movie); Sour Soul by BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah (a fun throwback jazz-rap album)
Joke of the Day:
Today was mostly spent in a car so I didn’t get one today, but here’s one from the world wide web:
I was walking down the street, and this guy waved to me. Then he came up to me and said, “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.” I looked at him and said, “I am.”
Favorite Coffee: Dinosaur Coffee in LA
Favorite Bar: Stout Burgers and Beers in LA
Favorite Beer: IX from Third Window in Santa Barbara
Favorite Restaurant: Sam Wo Restaurant in San Francisco, though Amigos Tacos in Hermosa Beach has the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever encountered
Favorite Hippie Meal: the Sushirito from Sushinista
Favorite Attraction: I was probably most impressed by the Getty in LA, but I had the most fun at Musee Mechanique in SF.
Favorite Open Mic: Mod Mic at Mod Pizza in LA (RIP)
General Impression of the CA Comedy Scene: This isn’t super fair since I only got to see LA and a little bit of SF, but based on that I felt like LA would be really hard place to start out because most mics are lottery and because so many people are just there to become famous not necessarily because they want to be a comedian the competition is way more all over the map than in less show-bizzy cities. It felt similar to NYC in that regard, though I do think it’s easier to get guaranteed stage time in New York. That being said, the opportunities in LA after the open-mic phase do seem genuinely incredible and rivaled really only by New York and Chicago. SF was smaller but seemed like a much friendlier and less overly-competitive scene, but I did only real do the one mic there so I wish I could have seen more. “I wish I could have seen more” is also probably just in general the theme of my week in such a large state but I’m very happy and lucky to have seen all the things I did get to see.
Songs of the Day: