I sometimes wonder how we survived and traveled in the days before instantaneous communication and how we entertained ourselves at all. I had a chance to ponder this on our first day on the road after San Franscico.
After renting a car, we headed out of the city over the Golden Gate Bridge. I have to admit, I’d have been a little disappointed to leave there any other way. It was cool to drive on the bridge and take pictures of its bronze suspension system at the same time.
We traveled north out of the bay area because we wanted to see the redwoods of Miur Woods. While I’m not much of a naturalist, I have to admit that these trees, not always so huge around, were definitely taller than anything I’d ever seen. You have to have some respect for the fortitude of trees that can withstand anything nature throws at them and which have been doing that since before the United States was formed.
From the Miur Woods we went further north to Point Reyes, which is about as far out on the coastline of California as you can go without a boat. It was on the way up to Point Reyes that our first indication came that our technology could fail us. The cell phone, which had seemed to be enough charged for the day in San Francisco, gave us a warning beep that the battery was low. Not a problem, we could just get the car charger out and plug it in…except the car charger was in our car….back home. We turned it off, hoping to conserve power and continued on our way.
Point Reyes was beautiful. Again, I’m not a naturalist, but this area of coastline was beautiful. We traveled along through historic ranches (simply the people who are actually living and working cattle out there) and made out way out to the lighthouse at the point.
We stopped along the way to try and spot sea lions and the wind off the ocean was stronger than a South Dakota blizzard…indeed, there was sand blowing in finger drifts across the road, much like snow. While it wasn’t as a cold a wind as a blizzard, it sent a chill through us and we sprinted back to the car for jackets.
We finally reached the fartherest that we could drive and got out to the sight and sound of the ocean waves pounding the shore far below the cliff we were on. The wind was so strong and so constant up there that trees were growing sideways instead of straight up. The tops of the trees appeared to be pointing out to the ocean instead of up to the sky! There was some more climbing “up” to get to the tip of the cliff. Indeed, it seemed we climbed a long way in a cold gale.
When we reached the outpost viewing platform, we could see the ocean before us and the lighthouse below us–300 steps down. That, of course, meant you would also have 300 steps back up. Given the fact that this is considered one of the windiest spots in the country (regular winds at 40 mph and gusts of up to 100) about the time we got there, they were closing the steps because the wind was so strong they were afraid of people literally being blown off of them or down them! I was not sorry, but I think Roy was disappointed.
We came back and then took another car route out to see some more sea lions. This is where the second technology blunder came: Roy went walking out with the camera and I decided to stay at the car and perhaps read the last chapter of the book I had been following on my Kindle. Guess what? No Kindle. I tore that car apart, went through every bag and suitcase and finally had to come to the realization that I had actually left my Kindle in San Francisco.
I immediately tried to call the motel and, either there was no power or no signal on the telephone. Roy came back with great pictures and stories of the sea lions, but we were a little dampened by the possible loss of my reading books…on my Kindle!
Back on the main road, we were miraculously able to get the telephone to work. We called the motel and those wonderful people had already found the Kindle and were making arrangements to ship it back to me.
Feeling a little better, we headed on down the road towards Sacramento, where we were supposed to spend the evening and night with my cousin. We had a late start, and were hurrying along on what we thought was the shortest route when we came across the mother of all traffic jams. There we sat, locked in traffic that refused to move (and we were in the middle of the countryside) and we knew that my cousin and his wife were expecting us for dinner. Nothing to do but call them.
The third technology issue: the phone, which had eased our minds about the Kindle had apparently given its all, because it wouldn’t even turn on! So there we sat, buried in traffic, with the clock telling us we were now officially late, and no way to let them know that we were not just inconsiderate slobs!
We finally broke out of the traffic jam, but it forced us to go miles out of our way. We were actually considerng the possibility of stopping and offering some gas station employee five dollars to borrow their phone, when we reached a town with a decent-sized fast food selection.
And that’s where technology saved us. I found a restaurant with free wireless and was able to get my computer up (and it was none too well charged) and contact people through e-mail.
We finally made it – very late – to my cousin’s house, with many apologies for our tardiness. They were understanding, But technology has become incredibly important to the traveler of the modern world. We charged our cell phone and our computer and we made sure we had all the proper cords for our GPS. Traveling is most definitely not the Wells-Fargo stagecoach anymore! Now if only I had my Kindle so I could read in the car….