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California 2009
Dedicated to Quinn O'Hara, my "special little California friend"!
In loving memory of Gayle Caldwell, my "sweet little songbird"!

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About The Trip
Day By Day

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About The Trip:  I was in desperate need of a vacation.  From March 26 to April 8 of 2009 I traveled cross-country from Iowa to California and back.  Why didn't I fly?  I wasn't in a hurry.  Part of the vacation, for me, was seeing these different states.  I never went to California before.  The only State we passed through that I had been in before was Nebraska, and only as far as Lincoln.  I enjoyed the whole experience.

    Before I went on vacation, life was getting too hectic.  I had too many irons in the fire.  I still have too many irons in the fire, but at that point, I had no release.  My last vacation was in 2002 and it was horrible.  As a matter of fact, I didn't have a good vacation since 1996.  I figured I was deserving of one.

    I really wanted to meet my two long-time friends, Gayle Caldwell and Quinn O'Hara, in person.   We had never before met face-to-face.  I was a very close friend of the late Gayle Caldwell, and Quinn O'Hara is my best friend.  It was time.  What finally prompted me to come to California was the March 8 concert that Gayle had planned to debut her CD.  Unfortunately, that concert was cancelled due to her growing physical/mental health issues.  But I still had it set in my mind to come.  Due to business and personal matters, my vacation was delayed until March 26.

    I'm fortunate to have been able to visit Gayle Caldwell when I did.  Only two weeks after our visit, Gayle was found dead in her home.  She was my very first "celebrity" friend, and I miss her terrible.  I lost one friend, but I gained many new friends, through Gayle and through Quinn.  Especially Quinn.  She was a blast from beginning to end, and the biggest reason I finally decided to come to California.  Although I wanted to support Gayle for her concert, a concert alone would not have been enough of a reason to come all the way to California.  It really was a package deal.  Quinn was the cornerstone of the entire trip.

Day By Day:

1. March 26, 2009
   
    Ryan and I started heading down the road at 9:30 a.m. (Central) in his big, silver 2000 Ford Expedition.  We traveled from where I live in Eastern Iowa all the way to the western border and into the State of Nebraska.  For those who don't know, Nebraska is a WIDE, boring state with nothing to look at...at least from Interstate 80.  We drove until about 6:30 p.m. and stayed at a Motel 6 in Sidney.  The weather went from warm and sunny to cold and snowing due to a backlash of bad weather that dumped a ton of white stuff on Denver, Colorado.

    Motel 6 motels are nice places to stay at for one or two night excursions.  For longer stays you'd want a place with more amenities.  They're just clean and simple places; great for hanging your hat for a night...and cheap!

2. March 27, 2009
   
    At 6:00 a.m. in the morning (still Central), Ryan and I left our Motel 6 room and headed down the road again.  The weather was still cold, but at least it was sunny and melting.  We had a lot of Nebraska left to go, then we came into Wyoming.  Wyoming's a prettier State, but we came across some scary traveling conditions.  The narrow, curvy mountain roads were icy and the interstate was populated with semi trucks that lazily weaved between two lanes.  The constant elevation hikes and drops didn't help, either.  This continued into Utah, pretty much up to Salt Lake City.  Driving was fine in Salt Lake, but it's not the cleanest-looking city.  You have all these beautiful, majestic mountains, and in the middle of all that it looks like someone started growing tall smokestacks and factories for crops!  Still, the State of Utah was the prettiest of all the States in our travels until we came into Northern California.

    Our next State was Nevada.  Nevada is about like Nebraska, only with a lot more casinos.  If it wasn't for casinos, Nevada wouldn't have anything!  What I think is funny is that every business is also a casino.  You'll see a restaurant...and casino, a motel...and casino, a gas station...and casino, and so on.  You wouldn't think these days that people would have enough money to throw away to keep all these places running, but they must do alright.

    We stopped at around 6:30 p.m. in the gambling town of Elko, Nevada.  This is a nice place for a gambling town.  I'd recommend going there if you're into casinos.  Even with the creepy incident we came across at a Taco Time restaurant near our motel.  I had just ordered and paid for food to go when a bum came up behind me and started talking to one of the workers.  When I say "bum", I don't mean "homeless person"; I mean BUM.  This guy was dirty, greasy, and nasty...kind of reminds me of the guy on Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" cover.  I also think he was either drunk or on drugs or both.  He and his bum buddies wanted to sell something on the property.  The manager lady came up and politely told him that there is no soliciting anywhere in the square.  He then said that if they couldn't sell their wares, that he and his group would kill all the workers in the Taco Time.  Then he left.  In less than two minutes, two police cars arrived and busted the spokesman of the group.  Some of the bums got away, but I know the "leader" was caught for sure.  I really give the police department of Elko, Nevada a lot of credit.  They did a good job.

    Ryan and I stayed at a Motel 6 in Elko just across the street from the Taco Time.  Needless to say we ate our tacos in our room with the door locked.  It's still a nice town, though, and we felt safe for the most part...despite that episode.  We saw the movie "Fun With Dick and Jane" on cable which would have been cool if it wasn't for all the editing and commercials.  I like that movie, but basic cable only proved once again how much it sucks.  Cable used to be so cool up until around 1996.  Now it's all like network channels.

    One thing I noticed about Elko is that it has a very nostalgic feel to it.  Everything looks like it was made in the 1950s and 60s.  Even the Motel 6.  It's all very cool because I like the looks of the 50s and 60s better than anything else.  The town does a great job of keeping everything up so it doesn't look run down.  It's just a really pretty place.

3. March 28, 2009

    Before leaving Elko, Nevada we came across a really cool-looking casino with a giant polar bear sign above both entrances.  The place is called Commercial Casino.  I don't endorse gambling, but I love the polar bears!  I had never seen anything like it, so I had to take pictures!  After all, polar bears are my favorite wild animals.

    We drove through the rest of Nevada into California.  Northern California is really something else.  If I had to move to any other place in the world (and believe me, I don't want to), it would be somewhere in Northern California.  You have the mountains and redwood trees and ocean and all sorts of neat visuals.  Most of the coastal towns are just long strips, tucked neatly between mountains and ocean.  They look cool, and have all kinds of unique stores that carry things you just can't find at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  As a matter of fact, those towns DON'T have Wal-Marts, and they'd be foolish to have one.

    On the Northern California coast, all towns kind of blend together.  Where one ends, another begins.  Most interesting, people in Northern California are pleasant...kind of like most people were in the 1950s and 60s.  Everyone is so easy-going it's incredible.  You hear all these things about California like people are so crass and prone to violence.  That is really just Southern California...basically the inner city areas of Los Angeles.  It's too bad that L.A. is the stereotype for all of California.  Life is different between the Northern and Southern areas of the State.  As a matter of fact, a lot of people that live in the North want the State to become two.  I really think it should become two States, due to the incredible differences in topography and lifestyles.

    We arrived in Fort Bragg, California at around 4:00 p.m. (Pacific).  This was a bit earlier than we anticipated.  We originally thought our arrival wouldn't be until the 29th.  I gave us four days to get to California.  It was hard to tell how far we could make it in a day.  Had we been traveling in the middle of Winter, it might have taken us longer.  Since we traveled in the early stages of Spring, we were able to make great time!

    In Fort Bragg, we stayed at a wonderful motel called Surf Motel & Gardens (Room 122).  It had been around for years as just Surf Motel, but in recent years they added the "& Gardens".  They have many little garden areas with brilliant flowers and other plants that really lively up the place.  It's a great gimmick, but what really impressed me was the motel itself.  Motels, by most anyone's opinion, aren't known to be really nice places.  This motel is so nice that it's not like a motel at all!  I really loved it.  The rooms are so big and pretty.  The entire building and office area is pretty, and all of the staff seemed like nice people.  To top it all, it's not even expensive!  It cost me $69 a night, and there was a deal through March 31 that said if you stayed at least three nights, you'd get one night for free (we stayed four).  This was certainly the nicest motel I've ever stayed in and I recommend it highly.

    My friend Gayle Caldwell, who lives in Fort Bragg, was as surprised as we were when I called from the motel and told her that Ryan and I arrived a day early.  I wasn't supposed to see her until the 30th, so we met a day earlier, on the 29th.

4. March 29, 2009

    At about 10:00 a.m. (Pacific), I met Gayle Caldwell face-to-face at her cozy little home in Fort Bragg.  We had been close friends since February of 2005 (over four years) and never met in person!  As a matter of fact, she was the first close friend I made in show business.  Quinn O'Hara came on July 27 of 2005, and since then I've been fortunate to become friends with many entertainers.

    Gayle was told about my height of 6' 7", but I think I still baffled the shapely 5' 2" singer.  It seemed to take a while for her to get over the initial shock, but she was very good company and we had a nice visit.  Later in the day, she took Ryan and me to meet her lovely sister Carole and friendly brother-in-law James Sibbet in Comptche.  The five of us then went to Montgomery Woods near Ukiah for a hike amongst the famous California redwood trees.  Until you've seen these trees for real, you don't really know what they're like.  They're incredibly tall and wide.  The hike is also very steep and rugged terrain.  If you're going to walk it, TAKE WATER!  I can't express that enough.  You can still hike without it, but it's not pleasant.  I think water is a must.  Carole forgot to bring our drinks, but I forgive her because she's cool :)

5. March 30, 2009

    Gayle was busy until 5:00 p.m. so Ryan and I kept ourselves occupied with a tour of the beautiful Northern California coastline.  We checked out the ocean in Westport, first, which is north of Fort Bragg.  I took a great many photos and movies with my Kodak digital camera.  The winds were heavy, and so were the waves.  If you really like to see water crashing against the rocks, this was perfect weather for it.  It wasn't too cold, but people in California think temperatures in the sixties are freezing.  I enjoyed it.  In Iowa, a forty-degree day in Winter is like heaven; the snow and ice melts, and roads are good for traveling again.  Heck, a forty-degree day in Iowa is light jacket weather!

    The annual gray whale migration was taking place at the time (until April), but we didn't see any due to the high waves.  The next area we went to to see the ocean was Fort Bragg.

    When Ryan and I visited Gayle that night, she treated us with a homemade dinner and a private performance of five of her songs.  A lot of people think you need a studio or a stage to sound excellent.  Ryan and I were delighted that she sounded so excellent with a simple piano and microphone setup.  I then had her sign an LP of her "Celebration of Life" album, sheet music to her song "Cycles", and Tom Lisanti's book "Hollywood Beach Party Movies" that covered Gayle's 1965 film "Wild on the Beach".  I have many more Gayle Caldwell items, including the New Christy Minstrels LPs, but time was tight before my vacation and I only brought what I could easily find!

6. March 31, 2009

    I was supposed to see Gayle this day, but she was "under the weather".  Before Ryan and I took off for sight-seeing, I took the opportunity to photograph the wonderful Surf Motel & Gardens.  We then spent a good part of the day at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.  This is a great place!  Everyone should go there at least once!  It's 47 acres of flowers and other beautiful plants set near the ocean.  It's impossible to see everything there in one visit unless you spend the whole day.  Even then it might be a challenge.  I took pictures of some of the highlights, but don't think this is everything the place has to offer; I simply couldn't take pictures of everything.

    After this, we went to the Mendocino Headlands State Park (in Mendocino, of course), and grabbed some photos of a cool rock tunnel in the ocean and a friendly seagull.

7. April 1, 2009

    Ryan and I left at 4:00 a.m. for Los Angeles.  Why so early?  I had called my friend Quinn O'Hara the night before, who lives in Los Angeles, and asked her what time we should arrive in the city to avoid the infamous heavy traffic.  She said that the real heavy traffic didn't start until 3:30 p.m. and lasted through 7:00 p.m.  To allow us plenty of time, we left Fort Bragg at 4:00 a.m. and arrived in Los Angeles a little after 1:00 p.m.  No matter what time you go to L.A., the traffic is always going to be somewhat thick, but we got off light.  Every time Ryan and I went somewhere in Los Angeles, we were fortunate to always be moving, even though it wasn't very fast.  We very simply picked the best times to travel anywhere.

    There's a very common misconception that all of Los Angeles is a pit.  This is not true.  We went to the more "cleaned up" part of L.A.  Quinn lives between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.  All of this area is pretty safe.  And not once did we see smog.  The sky was always blue.  This is really a very pretty area because trees and flowers are abundant, and grow all year long.  You'll also see thick vines growing on sides of buildings and walls.

    What people say about L.A. residents has some truth to it.  People here, as a general rule, are not outgoing and friendly.  They pretty much stick to their own.  By the same token, they are not so quick to violence.  We never had a gun pulled on us once.  I also never heard anyone shouting at me.  Los Angeles is filled with crazy, grumpy people, but they're mostly alright.  I prefer the people of North California.  Then again, that's an entirely different environment.  I think when you cram four million people into one city you're naturally going to have problems.  Especially since there are so many illegal immigrants and other people where English is a second language.

    I find it amazing that there are so few white people in Los Angeles.  Everywhere I went, white people were a minority.  The areas I ventured into were mostly Mexican and Eastern Indian.  There were some Asians, but nothing like the Mexican and Indian populations.

    The motel Ryan and I stayed at was Paradise Inn & Suites (Room 109).  The address is Los Angeles, although it's really located in Culver City.  That's a little confusing.  It was a nice enough place in outside appearance, but not well maintained.  For one thing, the lights in the room were too dang dim!  You couldn't see anything!  The brightest light in the room was in the bathroom.  You also had to battle the shower for hot water.  The water was either ice cold or searingly hot; never a compromise.  If other people in the building were taking showers, we were in trouble.  Hot water was a treat.  You could make it tolerable if you turned on the cold water just slightly; too much and the water is ice cold again.  We also found the beds hard and uncomfortable.  Every night I slept there, I had a stiff neck until late into the next afternoon.  Housekeeping was also disappointing.  Some days you'd get towels, some days not.  Taking out trash also seemed to be a problem.  There were several things like that.  I did find the great size of the room nice.  We also had a refrigerator and microwave that worked pretty well.  The TV was huge and got good channels.  I thought the couch, chair, and coffee table was nice, too.  For the most part, it was an okay place.  I'd still recommend it.

    At around 7:00 p.m., Quinn O'Hara drove into the motel parking lot and we met face-to-face for the first time.  We're best friends to each other and had been for almost four years, but we never before met in person!  All our contact up to that point had been through e-mail, letters, and phone.  It was wonderful for me to meet my "special little California friend"!  We went to her favorite Starbuck's in L.A.  Her coffee of choice is the Caramel Mocchiata Decaf (Grande size).  I don't like coffee, so I got the Caramel Apple Spice drink.  It's outstanding!  I like it that Starbuck's offers more than just coffees.

    I took some photos of Quinn before we left Starbuck's.  She is an outstanding photo subject!  I don't know how she does it, but she has an instant flair that turns on with the camera.  She seems like a regular person, but whenever she's in front of a camera she morphs into this beautiful butterfly of a persona that's as real as it is intriguing.  I find her fascinating.

    We later made the rounds at a number of stores and it was sometime after 11:00 p.m. when she dropped me off at the motel.  I could tell she didn't want our visit to end, and neither did I, but we had people to meet the next day.  Also, Ryan was tired from all the driving on our vacation and hungry, so I wanted to bring him some McDonald's burgers and fries.

8. April 2, 2009

    Quinn picked me up in the morning and we met beach movie legend Aron Kincaid in Beverly Hills at a restaurant called The Farm, around 11:30 a.m.  He's a very likable guy and supremely talented.  He has acting talent and can do a variety of voices.  He's also a movie buff and an accomplished artist.  His artwork, under the name N.N. Williams II, has a strong focus on classic Hollywood actors and actresses.  He paints realistic and caricature portraits.  At the time we met, he was working on a painting of screen legend Maureen O'Hara for a museum in Ireland.  This project was kind of spooking him out because he wasn't quite sure how it was going to develop.  He actually met Maureen O'Hara a few times over the years and got along well with her.

    Aron makes his disenchantment with show business from the 1980s onward very plain.  He did only voiceover work for about the last decade of his career, and abandoned that in the late 1990s.  He is predominately an artist now, and a great one at that.  I think he'd be interested in acting again; he just doesn't want to be involved in trash projects.  With his love for movies and acting, I hope he returns to the big screen.  I think he'd be outstanding in funny ol' grandpa parts!  I see him doing family films more than anything else.

    He's a private guy and doesn't like coming into the city that much.  Aron's no hermit, but he did say that this was the first time he was away from his home in nine days.  He's got a nice place and he likes it...nothing wrong with that.  I enjoyed Aron Kincaid greatly and found him to be amusing and friendly.  It was his idea to take photos in front of a creepy-looking tree in Beverly Hills to capture that "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" feel.  I think fans of the movie will appreciate seeing Bobby and Sinistra, together again!

    It was around 3:30 p.m. when Quinn and I met 60s movie bombshell Lori Williams at a Beverly Hills Starbuck's.  She's a bit of amazing!  Lori looks like she's only 35 years old, if that!  Lori has expressed interest in acting again, but has done very well for herself over the years in casting and, mostly, realty.  I like Lori because she's very frank about the movies she did in the 60s.  She doesn't try to hype them up like they're the greatest things in the world.  As a matter of fact, she's described many of them as "hideous".  But she's very sincere when she says she likes performing.  And she was great at it.  She did a lot more dancing onscreen that actual speaking parts.  Lori did, however, have a huge speaking part in the cult hit film "Faster Pussycat!  Kill!  Kill!" from 1966.  She played one of the three bad beauties who end up getting killed near the end of the movie.

9. April 3, 2009

    At about 10:30 a.m. Quinn took me to her favorite Starbuck's to meet William Wellman, Jr., her co-star in the popular beach movie, "A Swingin' Summer".  Time was a bit tight for him as he had to get to a wedding AND a funeral.  He really planned to be with us for forty-five minutes tops.  He must have found me interesting to talk to, because he was with us for an hour and twenty minutes!  This guy is very savvy with the business end of show business.  On top of all that, he's worked pretty solid in acting since the late 1950s.  That's quite an accomplishment.

    It was a real blast for me to hear his stories, and he has some great ones!  I'm glad I got to see him.

    We went to check out Beverly Hills again at around 3:00 p.m.  This time Ryan came with.  Beverly Hills is an interesting place.  If I had been in Beverly Hills forty years before, I would have been out of place with my Hawaiian shirts and dress slacks.  Back then, everyone dressed in suits or furs.  Nowadays, anything goes.  There was one guy, definitely a "fella", we saw walking around in a Daisy Duke outfit!  This guy was in his early forties, flabby, and thought he was a diva!  He carried himself like he was really hot!  I thought that was funny stuff.  I almost thought we were in San Francisco.

10. April 4, 2009

   
Today was a free day because Quinn didn't have anyone arranged for us to meet.  We took Ryan with us to the Los Angeles Zoo.  Why the zoo?  Quinn and I authored a children's book, and meerkats serve an importance to the story.  She was especially excited about seeing the meerkats, and I like zoos, anyway.  The Los Angeles Zoo is a fine facility, and I would return to see it, but there were two drawbacks this time around.  First of all, there was a lot of construction going on.  They had a fire about a year back.  Animals needed to be moved, and exhibits needed to be rebuilt.  I got a little bored seeing things closed off, or animals not where they were supposed to be located.  Second, and most important, was the fact that there were too, too many people that day.  I don't know if it was a special occasion, but there had to be at least 3,000 Mexican-American people at the zoo that day.  What was worse is that they were all running around aimlessly, and they were scaring the heck out of the animals.  All the animals either had their backs to the crowd, or went into hiding.  It was hard to get good photos, but I did manage to snap a handful.  The traffic didn't intimidate the animals so much, it was the fact that they were all hanging over the edge of the fences and yelling in Spanish.  The mass confusion was so annoying that we didn't stay as long as we would have.

    Before we left, Quinn and I bought each other stuffed animal meerkats from the souvenir store.  The Los Angeles Zoo has a really great gift store setup.  There are actually many stores, each one for a different continent.  Depending on what animal you were interested in finding a product, you could go to the Africa store, the North America store, the Asia store, the Australia store, and so on.

    Since we were done with the zoo earlier than anticipated, Quinn drove us to Venice Beach.  Ryan waited the whole vacation to see the ocean with sand!  In Northern California, the entire coast is pretty much high cliffs.  Although pretty, there aren't a lot of places to go into the ocean.  Southern California is where you find the sandy beaches.  Venice Beach is not quiet and secluded.  There were a lot of people on the beach, and parked on the side of the road.  I really don't know how anyone enjoys it when there are so many people.  It's not even remotely romantic.

11. April 5, 2009

    Quinn and I started off the day by going to Ralph's (the California equivalent to Kroger's) for groceries.  Hey, we both needed groceries.  She was low and Ryan and I needed provisions for the long trip home.  It was a highlight for Ryan, because it was the only place in Los Angeles we found that carried his particular type of Swisher Sweets cigars.  You wouldn't believe how hard they were to find.  The real amazing thing is that Diet Mountain Dew, Ryan's favorite drink, is almost nonexistent in California!  At least in all the stores and gas stations we stopped at.  Ralph's had that, too.

    Ahna Capri, actress of the legendary Bruce Lee movie, "Enter the Dragon" was coming to Quinn's house at 3:00 p.m.  So Quinn and I had some time to kill.  One thing I wanted to do was a very impromptu interview with Quinn on my new video camera.  I had a few ideas of things I wanted her to say and show the audience, but generally it was very "on the fly".  From the very beginning, I planned to edit it into many short clips.  Quinn does not like to improvise, and was genuinely nervous before we started.  Once the camera went on, so did she, and she gave an EXCELLENT interview.  ATTENTION PEOPLE IN CASTING, READING THIS FEATURE:  Quinn may seem nervous at first, but once she's in front of a photo camera or video camera, she instantly "turns on".  I've never encountered anyone in my whole life that could do this.  She can SO do any kind of role.  If you're going to interview her or have her do a script reading, do it in front of a camera.  That is what's going to count.

    Besides the video interview, we did a bunch of miscellaneous stuff.  I had Quinn sign DVDs, photos, posters, etc.  She loaded me up with all kinds of treasures to take back to Iowa.  This was really the only day I spent with Quinn where we just stayed around the house all day.

    Ahna arrived on time, but this was the first time she had come to see Quinn at her house.  She was walking down the street, looking over map printouts and trying to find Quinn's house when I flagged her down.  I've been a fan of Ahna's for years, and when you're use to seeing her as the types of cool, composed characters she plays on film, you don't expect to be as confused as the rest of us!  It was kind of funny.  I LOVE AHNA CAPRI!  Besides having one of the coolest names ever, she's just a bright, brassy personality.  Not pushy, or sassy...just brassy, and with a great sense of humor.  She'll tell you, straight out, who was good to work with, and who was a pain in the a**.  In that regard, she's very much like the characters she plays.  There's certainly a bit of Tania (her "Enter the Dragon" character) in Ahna Capri, and vice versa.

    What I find interesting is when entertainers find ME interesting.  I've communicated with a lot of show business people, and there are only a few that really soured me...didn't care about me at all.  Ahna Capri, however, was EXTREMELY interested in who I was and what I did with Polar Blair's Den.  It's great for my self-esteem when I get that kind of reaction out of people, but, in over four years of working with celebrities, it still strikes me as odd.  Here I am, talking to bigshots who worked with other bigshots, traveled the world, and did all these amazing things...and they think I'm cool!  Far out!  True, I am pretty knowledgable, talented, and certainly a peculiar visual, but in many ways I'm really just a regular guy.

    Ahna, like Quinn, is another one who really "turns on" for the camera.  During my entire visit, only Quinn and Ahna possessed that quality to entirely transform in front of the camera.  Everyone was good at posing, but Q&A really came alive!  They are fun, fun, FUN to capture on film!  I think Ahna should enter the acting arena again.  I'd like to see her doing a funny, Hungarian gypsy character.  I can see her doing comedic, oddball parts.

    After Ahna left, and before Ryan and I returned to the motel, Quinn and I had our picture taken with the meerkat dolls.  I thought this would be great to show on the jacket for our book when it reached publication.

12. April 6, 2009

    The original plan, days before, was for Ryan and I to leave Los Angeles in the early morning so we could beat the traffic going out of town.  But Quinn and I both wanted to visit in the morning, so we went to her house and talked for two hours.  It was hard for me to say goodbye to Quinn, and it was hard for Quinn to say goodbye to me.  We waved to each other and blew each other kisses...then I was on the road, again.

    We started leaving L.A. at 11:30 a.m.  The traffic was not bad, but it still took a while to get past the city limits.  Los Angeles traffic is one of two things:  slow and steady, or slow as a slug on valium...no in-between.  This day we made it out of California, through casino-riddled Nevada, cactus-covered Arizona, and into Utah.

    In Richfield, Utah we stayed at a Days Inn motel.  Days Inn motels are great!  They're inexpensive, but very nice facilities with spacious rooms.  It's rare that motels have great showers, but both of the Days Inns we stayed at were pretty decent.

13. April 7, 2009

    This was a very ambitious day for driving; over 16 hours!  We drove 1,003 miles!  By the time we reached Council Bluffs, Iowa, we thought it was a good idea to cool the wheels at another Days Inn.  We finished up Utah, went through Colorado, Nebraska, and into Iowa.  What's interesting is that Northeast Colorado looks EXACTLY like Nebraska if not a little more barren.  After Denver, the state just stopped being interesting.  For the longest time you're driving through mountains and trees...then tundra!  When we made it to Council Bluffs, we realized that we'd have only four hours of driving at the outset before we reached home.  However, that would have placed us at returning at 2:00 a.m., and that's just not a good time to unload the vehicle and crash into bed.  As a matter of fact, I thought we'd probably crash, in another sense, if we didn't stop at a motel.  We were both weary.

14. April 8, 2009

    We left our Days Inn room at Council Bluffs at about 6:30 a.m. and arrived home before 10:00 a.m.  Although we didn't have a long ways to go, we both agreed it was a good thing we stayed at a motel the night before.  We felt 1,003 miles in one day was enough.  We also realized that a person CAN drive from California to Iowa in two days, but it's better (and safer) to do it in three.