Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nominated for Sainthood

This week is just full of special days.  Halloween is Wednesday and it is celebrated more fully here in central Texas than it was in East Texas.  In fact, Halloween is discouraged in East Texas by those who see it as some manifestation of evil in the world.  Many in that part of the state refer to it as "the devil's birthday" and they want children to ignore it or they have alternative events such as Fall Festivals at which children may dress up as a disciple or a religious figure but no witches or skeletons are allowed.

When I go out for my daily walk around our little central Texas town, I see many houses with impromptu graveyards, ghosts hanging from trees, skeletons wafting the breeze, and bats flying here and there.  On Halloween night itself, parents escort their children around town to gather candy from their neighbors and, as far as I know, there has not been one incident to mar the spooky celebration since I have lived here.  There is a curfew of 10 pm for Halloween night since it falls on a school night but that is mainly to keep any mischief makers in line rather than curb the enjoyment of any child looking for candy.  Even in a town that has a liquor store and a bar, things are pretty quiet on most nights and Halloween is no exception.

Then, the next day is All Saints Day.  Halloween is actually a word that incorporates the words "hallowed" and "evening"--e'en being short for evening.  It began as an evening that attached to All Saints Day and it was believed in the ancient world that the souls of those who had died during the past year would be swept up into heaven (or some other place) on that evening as they were walking the earth in preparation for this event up until it happened.  So, the "spirits" were especially busy on Halloween taking off for their eternal destination.  All Saints Day was a day that people thought about those persons who had taken their journey the night before.  A church service was usually held during which the congregation gave thanks for the lives of those whose spirits made the connection the night before.  The two days fit together well because they both made comment on the same life or after life event.

Some churches have services on All Saints Day.  Our local Catholic church will have one and Episcopalian Churches have them also.  Our church has its celebration that coincides with All Saints Day on the Sunday after All Saints Day.  Since our church as German roots we also call it "Totenfest" which means "Festival of the Dead".  This church has celebrated it using the German word since its beginnings and we refer to the special day with both words.  The customs are the same for both celebrations on Sunday--we read the names of the members who died during the past year, we light a candle in their memory, and ring a bell.  We also name non-members who died during the past year and we ring one last bell after they have all been named.

The word "Saint" has a meaning to some people that we do not attach to it.  Some think that a person who is a "saint" is someone who was perfect.  That is not true at all for our brand of saints.  Saints are people who tried to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ throughout their lives.  They made mistakes but they asked for forgiveness and made the resolve to try not to make the same mistakes again.  We call them "Saints" in the same way that Paul and others in the New Testament referred to the people who made up the churches in the Mediterranean during the beginnings of the Early Church.  Saints were people who were Christians and who were attempting to live as if they were.  They had been baptized and had made vows to try to live lives that would be good lives, treating others as they would like to be treated.

So, on this All Saints Sunday/Totenfest in our church we will remember five of our members who have died since last year at this time.  All of them were people that everyone here knew.  There are four women and one man.  Most of them had lived in this area all their lives.  They were known for foods they baked and music they made, accordion music (polka music).  They lived among us and we knew their names and shared meals with them around tables on many special and not so special days.  They were our next door neighbors.  They were saints.  They belonged to us and we loved them.

So, we nominate them for Sainthood, not because of their perfect lives (because they did not live lives that were perfect) but because of their baptism and place in the Church with all who have faithfully lived and died.  We know that they reside in the place of eternal rest reserved for all the saints who went before them and for all the rest of us who will catch up with them one day in the future.  As one song says, "they are saints of God, whether rich or poor, and I mean to be one too."  Happy All Saints Day!  May God remind you of all the blessed saints that have touched your lives over the years and may you give thanks for that blessing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives--Part Four (The End)

I can understand why someone wrote the song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."  I began singing it in my mind as we drove across the San Mateo Bridge toward the City by the Bay.  The Bridge we crossed was about 5 miles long and the temperature at its beginning was 20 degrees hotter than at its ending.  It is amazing to drive that short of a distance and to see the thermometer in the car dropping with each mile you drive.  Driving in San Francisco was much easier than I had anticipated (at 2 pm) so we found the place where we would be staying, a nice small apartment that is owned by an equally nice couple, and began to settle in.  The apartment is below the owners' own house and opens to a garden that is a perfect place to relax with a drink so we did.  We sat for a while and enjoyed the quiet of birds chirping and water flowing in fountains as a gentle breeze blew around us.  It was truly an oasis in the city because the freeway we had taken to get there was only a few blocks away but you would have thought it was miles and miles away.  We had earlier bought some sandwiches at a local grocery store and sat on the grass in Balboa Park and eaten them so we felt pretty mellow, just enjoying nature at work in this wonderful place.

The explorer in me began to emerge, though, and I could not sit much longer than an hour or so without needing to get out and go so, having received instructions from our landlady as to how to walk across a pedestrian walkway suspended above I-280, we set out to explore and to find a park she had described that sounded as equally beautiful as her garden backyard.  My wife has a nifty GPS devise that can be used by those walking as well as drivers so we set it to pedestrian mode and began to receive its instructions as to how to find the park that was our goal for the evening.  The GPS must have decided that we needed more exercise due to our large lunch so it sent us way out of our way, up and down those famous San Francisco hills.  We saw the park in the distance, far in the distance, and decided that we preferred to take a street that we been told contained a nice little French cafe and bakery.  So, we put the GPS aside and began to walk down a street with nice houses broken up now and then by a business.  Soon, we were in a business area that had a variety of stores.  We did find the French cafe but after looking at its menu posted in the window we decided that we were not hungry enough for anything substantial.  A organic grocery store with a little sidewalk sitting area called to us and soon we had latte and tea and enjoying people watching for a while.  We walked around the store and looked around and decided it was a mini-Whole Foods Market that had some great looking items but needed few of them except for some milk and juice and cereal for breakfast the next morning.  Taking the sidewalk in front of the store, we soon learned that it was the most direct route from our B&B to the subway station (BART).  If we had taken that street instead of the circuitous route we had taken, thanks to our GPS, we would have been there much sooner, howbeit with much less exercise.

After a very nice night's sleep with an open window looking out over the garden and morning coffee in bed, we rose and had breakfast and then set out for the BART station.  Since we had gone by it the night before, we found it easily and got our tickets as easily and soon were on the train bound for the Embarcadero stop.  We emerged from the subway station with banks and other financial institutions around us and found our way  to the Ferry Terminal Marketplace, a huge hall with many small stores mostly selling food items.  We laughed at one shop that advertised it had, "Salty Pig Parts."  There was a cheese shop, where we would later return and buy some really great cheese (Cowgirl Creamery) and some salami to go with the sourdough bread we bought, and a Peet's Coffee where we bought two coffee drinks and sat outside on a bench to bask in the sunshine and look at the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.  There was an affectionate sea bird modeling for us whose photo I took just before he took off toward the sea.

We walked along the Embarcadero way toward Fisherman's Wharf intending to have lunch down there when we decided we did not have enough time to go all that way and still get back to where we were to meet our tour of the city at 2 pm.  We saw a diner car, the kind that they have in the northeast US where you can get some really great food, called Fog City Diner, and decided to stop in there for lunch.  It is adjacent to a park where people were making all kinds of music.  The food was delicious and both of us ordered the same item and enjoyed it tremendously.

We were directly on the trolley line so we waited for a while and caught a very full trolley to take us back to where we began so we could catch a van that would take us to a bus that would give us a tour of San Francisco for 2 1/2 hours.  I had bought our tickets online before we left home in order to save on them so we were picked up and delivered to the tour station and soon were on board a comfortable bus that drove us all around the city.  The driver was either Italian or Hispanic and did not have a complete grasp of the English language so it was a bit like listening to Ricky Ricardo describing what we were seeing but I could catch enough of it to understand and sometimes would translate for our other passengers, two of which were German/Italian people from Switzerland who expected some form of translation devise to help them understand but it was not provided.  We saw Fisherman's Wharf, a very busy place, and the huge park where there is an outdoor amphitheater where musical productions are held, as well as the houses called Painted Ladies that are Victorian houses in many colors.  The houses were featured in the opening of the 1970s-80s era TV show, "Full House" along with the park across the street from it.  We also drove through the Haight-Ashbury part of town that still looks about as wild as it did in the 60s.  We concluded our tour near Fisherman's Wharf where we walked around a while.

The best thing we discovered in Fisherman's Wharf was the Boudin Bread Company, that has been making sourdough bread in San Francisco since the city was founded and even survived the Great Fire of 1909.  We took the tour and read the history and chatted with a docent and sampled the bread before buying some to take back to our place with us.  Bread in hand, we walked along till we could catch the trolley again to take us to the Ferry Terminal Building once again to purchase our cheese and salami and then catch the BART train back to our B&B.  Once there we had a delicious authentic San Francisco meal sitting in the tiny kitchen in our apartment near the garden.  Peace and rest at last.

The last part of our trip was to Yosemite National Park.  We collected Bo and Bushy the next day and continued our trip.  We drove to the house we had rented which is just north of Mariposa, CA which is the western gateway to Yosemite.  Mariposa has a lot more businesses for a town that is not much more in population than Weimar, Texas but I suppose that is because of its connection to Yosemite.  It has a fairly large supermarket where we bought supplies to take to the house we were renting.  For three days we enjoyed the house and had a cook out, toured the area, even going to see one of my wife's cousins that lives in Fresno, and spending one day in Yosemite National Park.  I liked Yosemite a lot but it is quite popular with Californians and is crowded no matter the day you visit.  We encountered road construction quite often as we drove in the area and had to sit and wait many times, making it not as enjoyable as it could have been. The roads have to be fixed sometimes, though, so why complain?

The trip ended as it began, with a 3 day drive, across the deserts of California and Arizona, the vast wastelands of New Mexico and west Texas, and finally back home.  We drove over 5700 miles and paid a high of $4.95 a gallon for gasoline the last day before we left California (near Palm Springs).  It was a great trip and I would love to do it again.  This one was the sampler since we had never been to California or Oregon.  We enjoyed what we saw and did and found people out west as friendly as people back home.

The End....of the story of our travels for now....Who knows?  It may come up again someday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives---Part Three

The house we rented near Bend, Oregon was really large, sleeping 10 easily, with an upstairs that we hardly used and two bedrooms downstairs.  It had a really nice kitchen in which we prepared many meals and a large living room with a wood stove for heat in case it was needed, which it wasn't, although the morning temperatures were in the 30s on all the days we were there.  Our two dogs, Bo and Bushy, had another playmate as our daughter brought her dog, Kiwi, which is our grand dog.  Kiwi is a Lhasa Apse, white with long flowing hair.  When she is laying very still, she looks like a little girl when you look down upon her.  Laura and Michael and Kiwi were with us there for four nights.  We explored the area together, going out to Paulina Falls and hiking the path to the overlook and then down to the floor of the forest where the falls lands.  We went into Bend and had drinks and snacks at the Deschutes Brewery which is the oldest microbrewery in Bend.  We drove down to Crater Lake and looked at it from every possible angle before returning and having a special dinner for Michael to celebrate his birthday (which is actually yesterday as I write this but we were not going to be with him so we wanted to celebrate early.)  Michael was very good at getting a fire to start in the outdoor fire pit and we cooked hot dogs and s'mores one night and sat outside and admired the stars above us.  After four days, we had to tell them goodbye as they left to return to their home in Washington state.

Doris and I and Bo and Bushy then set out for San Francisco.  It was quite a drive from Bend to the Bay Area so we broke it up with an overnight stay in Redding, CA.  We drove from Bend to the quaint town of Sisters and then over MacKensie Pass, which has a large volcanic field as you approach the summit from the east and a massive forest as you drive down the western side.  There were huge black boulders of volcanic rock everywhere and no trees on the eastern side.  There were trees everywhere on the western side, forming a canopy of trees over the highway.  The MacKensie River flows through the area between MacKensie Pass and the city of Eugene.  It is wide in most places and flows adjacent to the highway.  We drove through the scenic farmlands with produce stands here and there.  Doris took naps off and on as we drove along and I listened to NPR to stay focused on the highway.  I could have taken a nap too but someone had to drive and it seemed like I was nominated.

When we reached Eugene, we got on I-5 going south toward Redding.  We still had a lot of Oregon to go through and quite a bit of California before our destination.  We had not had lunch but kept putting off finding a picnic spot, thinking none were to our liking when we looked at them while driving down the interstate.  We finally got off at a gas station to fill up again, our last time in Oregon.  That is another thing about Oregon which is very odd.  They do not allow you to put in your own gas.  They and New Jersey (I was told by a gas attendant) are the only states in the union that forbid drivers from putting gas in their own cars.  Each time we bought gas in Oregon a gas attendant would come out and take my credit card and stick it in the gas pump (as I do many times each month) and then put the gas in the car and then give me my receipt that the pump printed out.  One time they actually washed the windshield as they did back in the 60s but most of the time that is all they did for us.  I never knew why they have that law in Oregon.  Is it because they do not trust their citizens to put gas in their cars?  Is it because people need jobs and that creates jobs in places where they are none in other states?  Is it because someone sued the state of Oregon over an accident at a gas station so they decided no one could pump their own gas?  I do not know but it feels very strange to allow another person to fool around with my car when I can do what they do just as well as they can.

We reached Redding just after dark and were ready for rest.  There is not anything very special about Redding although you can go to Lassen Volcanic National Park from there, according to signs we saw.  We did not, but we did pass Mt. Shasta again and I took some really great pictures of it just before sunset, giving it a rather pinkish glow.  We started out again for San Francisco the next morning and passed large groves of trees on which olives and pistachio nuts grew.  They must grow more nuts in California than anywhere in the world.  We saw massive groves of nut trees of many kinds.  We saw huge groves of olive trees too.  How great it is that California has such a great climate and fertile fields.  They really do supply the nation with much of its produce.

We passed Sacramento and took the highway that led to San Jose (Do you know the way to San Jose?  We do...the GPS led us right there.)  We did not go all the way to San Jose though because we were going instead to a little town called Sunol where a place called "Happiness Country Kennels"exists.  We had called ahead and made reservations for Bo and Bushy to spend two nights there while we toured San Francisco.  The webpage for the place looked great and I talked to a person on the phone from home before we left and they sounded nice but how do you know if a place is reputable just by talking on the phone?  Giving up our dogs to these strangers was a matter of trust.  So, we found Sunol and the kennel and took our little ones in there.  Bushy is never fond of going to the kennel and she begins to shake uncontrollably when she enters the door.  Bo just looks around here and there as if to size up the joint.  The woman behind the desk was all business, which bothered Doris.  She shushed us when we were telling her about our dogs and that made Doris a bit peeved.  I told Doris later that it was a cultural difference.  Texans tend to talk on and on and Californians are not as loquacious as we are.  Anyway, we soon left our canine cargo in the care of the kennel staff after taking them back and inspecting their quarters.  It was all clean and neat and the people receiving them seemed very caring.  So, Bushy and Bo were locked away in their little home away from home for two days and we were off to explore the City by the Bay.

Okay, I cannot finish it now, so look for more to come.    

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives--Part Two

So, with Big Sur behind us, we drove on into the night to Sacramento and then the next day to Bend, Oregon where we met our daughter and son-in-law and granddog, Kiwi, for four days of fun together.  On the way there we had to stop off in Redding, California, to pick up hamburgers for our daughter and son-in-law from a burger chain called, "In and Out Burger" which they have in California but not in many other places.  (They are moving into Texas, I was told by the man at the counter when I ordered the burgers, so look for them in the big cities of Texas soon.)  Doris and I had two burgers ourselves and ate them at the really nice covered patio provided.  They were dog friendly so Bo and Bushy also joined us there and we enjoyed the food and sat on the patio as the comfortable northern California breezes blew around us.

Back on the road, we continued toward Bend, passing Mt. Shasta, one of the volcanic mountains of the region, and turning off I-5 at the town of Weed.  Yes, there is a Weed, California.  They even sell t-shirts that say, "I Like Weed" on them.  I was very tempted to buy one to wear around town but thought the better of it since I would not want to embarrass any of my parishioners.  We took the road that would take us directly to Bend and began our trek, stopping to change drivers at a rest area.  There we encountered one of those quandaries that many of us do as we travel.  An old grey custom van, rather beat up looking, was parked near the end of the vehicles in the lot. A woman was sitting on a bench at the rest area so that other travelers would have to pass her in order to get to the rest rooms.  She held a sign that said, "I need money.  Hungry and broke" or something like that.  I really got a bit peeved by her placement and as we took the dogs out of the car to walk them, I walked way around her so I did not have to pass her way.  I noticed a placard giving a phone number to call to report any suspicious activity at the rest area so I actually called it and reported her.  Now, I know I am supposed to be very sympathetic to the needs of all human beings but the rather cynical part of me took over and soon there was a California Highway Patrolman coming into the parking lot of the rest area.  He must have thought I was the culprit who called this in because he walked directly toward me and asked me if I did.  I gave him the information and admitted calling and he thanked me and began walking toward the woman.  By that time, we were finished with our business at the rest area so we got into the car and continued our drive toward Bend.  Now, before you judge me harshly for being unsympathetic toward this beggar, later on after we stopped for gas in the edge of Oregon, we passed another rest area and the same old van that was at the one in California was there.  You could not miss its distinctive appearance.  We guessed they must have left the rest area after we did and then passed us when we stopped for gas.

Oregon is a beautiful state but it has some quirks that were hard to figure out.  One is that the speed limit on their non-freeways is never more than 55 mph.  Coming from Texas, where you can drive 75 on Hwy 71 between Columbus and El Campo, it was hard to keep the needle right at 55.  Doris and I both would drive between 60 and 65 and we were regularly passed by cars with Oregon license plates.  We did not want to bring home a souvenir from Oregon that would require us mailing in some money once we got home so we tried to at least keep it under 70.  Oregonians did not do as well; most of them sped by us driving 75-80 or higher.  We reached Bend around 4-5 pm and found the house that we were renting for four nights and followed the directions given to us to get in--Look for a lock box, put in the code, and retrieve the key to enter.  So, I followed the directions to the letter and put in the key to turn it and the key quickly broke off in the lock, giving me the large end.  I could fish the skinny part out of the lock but there was no way to enter the house.  I had been given the phone number of a woman who was supposed to be the caretaker for the house but after repeated tries of calling it and still could not get an answer, I did not know what else to do except break a window to enter.  Doris advised against such action, and probably wisely, so instead we headed for the public library.

We found the library which was just a few miles away and entered wanting to use a public computer and noticed that the library closed at 6 pm.  The time was 5:55 pm.  So, we asked the library person to allow us to use a computer and explained our plight and she sympathetically said, "Sure, you can use a computer until 6 pm when the library closes."  I signed on and began typing as fast as I could, writing an email to the man from whom we were going to rent the house.  We found the house on a website called Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) from which we had rented several houses before.  The man and his family lives in Georgia but they have this vacation home in Oregon and rent it via the internet.  I began to type an email to the man and was nearly through when I heard a voice say, "The library is now closed" at which time the computer simply turned off.  No warning or chance to save one's work....you were just finished.  The librarian sweetly came by to swoosh all who were at computers out of the library and we were out in the cold (actually not very cold) once again.

I remembered that we had brought our laptop computer but wondered if the library had wifi so that we could use it so we got it out and sat at a bench outside the library and got it going and sure enough there was a signal from the library to use.  Not knowing how long the signal may be available, I went to the mail site again and began typing a letter to the owner of the cabin once again.  This time I pushed send and off it went.  We found a local gas station/store and used their facilities and as we were driving back toward the cabin my cell phone began to ring.  I did not recognize the number but picked it up and the owner of the cabin was calling me.  He apologized for what had happened and said he was trying to get in touch with the caretaker and she would call me soon.  Then, he said he was calling from Bangladesh.  He was on a business trip there and was just leaving the place where he was staying when my email dropped into his IPhone.  Wow--how amazing is that?  Here we were in Oregon and he was calling from the other side of the world to tell us that he was trying to call a person in Oregon to try to help us.  Modern technology---we sometimes laugh at it and discount it but sometimes it is very amazing.

So, we went back to the house and waited around and soon a car drove up with a friendly young man in it who profusely apologized for our situation (turned out the key had broken before).  He opened the door and let us in and our Oregon adventure had begun.

Look for Part Three on a computer screen near you soon.....  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives- Part One

You know I have songs stuck in my head...it happens all the time and I usually can't get rid of them for a long time, and then a new song takes the place of the old song and so it goes.  We just returned from a two week vacation, a driving vacation to California and Oregon, and I had songs ruminating in my brain all along the way while we drove across the prairies and deserts and mountain passes of the West.  We loaded up our car with our luggage and our two dogs, Bo and Bushy, and all of their gear (they bring along as much stuff as our kids used to bring..gosh) and set out on our journey near the end of September.  We drove to Fort Stockton, Texas the first day and rested overnight before continuing on the next day to Phoenix.  ("By the time I get to Phoenix..." was the song in my head that day but I only sang it aloud one time.  I was thinking it a lot though.)  We drove across the prairies and badlands of New Mexico and Arizona, seeing the vast wastelands and open countryside, amazed at how much open land there is with fences near the roadsides but nothing on it.  If we could move many of those people in our most crowded cities to this vacant land, how much elbow room would they have?  Of course, why would they want to live out there in the nothingness unless someone put in some modern conveniences to lure them there?

We passed through Tucson easily and arrived in Phoenix just in time for the evening rush hour.  We learned that Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time like the rest of us so they are on the same time schedule as California during DST days.  So, they were two hours behind Texas and we gained two hours in one day of travel.  We fought the rush hour traffic in Phoenix and arrived at our hotel about 6 pm and after taking care of the needs of our furry traveling companions, I found the local El Pollo Loco that was next door to our hotel and brought back a bag of Mexican food to the hotel and we rested again.

The next day we got on the road with Ventura, California as our destination.  Ventura is on the west coast just northwest of Los Angeles.  It has that cool, comfortable coastal climate so we wanted to reach it that day and enjoy that cool air before heading northward.  One has to cross the desert between Phoenix and Los Angeles so we drove as fast as we could (speed limit plus 5) and saw lots of saguaros and Joshua Trees and other cacti that we did not name until finally we reached Indio, California, the first town you come to as you emerge from the desert.  We drove on and spotted Palm Springs, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert, and Desert Springs (a theme emerges it seems) until finally needing gas we stopped in Riverside and paid the first of our $4 plus per gallon fees for fuel ($4.23--which made me gasp but I got over it because the price only went up from there.)  We had lunch in Riverside and then got back on the road, bound for the LA area.

"LA is a great big freeway, put a hundred down and buy a car...." That sound began to pour out of me as I began to fight the famous LA traffic.  To be honest, I had great fear about driving around LA.  I had always heard it was the most terrible place to drive in the world and you wanted to avoid it at all costs.  We got our friendly GPS lady to take us just north of downtown LA so we could pass through Pasadena and Hollywood and other places whose names I had only heard but I had never been there.  Surprisingly, we made it okay driving through the LA area.  I found out that they drive just like the folks in Houston and Austin.  They drive faster than the speed limit, cut off other drivers, and weave in and out of the traffic so I did the same and much to the surprise of my wife who was holding on for dear life, we saw the Ventura Freeway and soon arrived in cool, comfy Ventura.

Ventura was the first city in California that I really liked.  I was so surprised by it.  It was definitely cooler than where we had come from and felt really great (high 60s).  It is an agricultural area and had fields with pumpkins in them.  We had dinner at a little casual seafood place where we ordered fish and chips and ate them at a picnic table outdoors fighting the cool wind and the sea gulls that had gathered to help us out.  The fish and chips were good but there were so many of them that we could not finish them off so we got a box of fish to take with us (the gulls got some of the fries) and then walked over to the seawall to see the Pacific Ocean in action.  The wind was a bit high so the waves were too and they came crashing onto the shore, just like in the movies.  The Pacific Ocean seemed rather threatening that day but I bet on a sunny day with low wind it would seem very welcoming.

The next day was our day to drive up Hwy 1, the Big Sur Highway.  We started out on Hwy 101 (a rock group from the 70s-80s had that name but I did not know any song of theirs to sing) and passed through Santa Barbera, which is a beautiful city with mountains to the east and ocean to the west and vineyards everywhere (I would love to return there someday) and soon saw the turnoff to Solvang so we turned east fore about five miles until we reached the picturesque Danish village.  Solvang is the Fredericksburg of California, except much larger.  Many buildings have facades that look Scandinavian since Solvang was settled by Danish pioneers who went west long ago and since they did not find gold they found tourism instead.  One can enjoy Danish pastries and coffee at a sidewalk cafe and stroll the streets looking in the shop windows and that is exactly what we did, walking our two dogs, who got admiring glances from passersby.  They were very good until another dog approached, and Bo, who never went to Obedience School, would jump at his leash and want to attack it.  We had to pick him up and calm him down and tell him that we were okay and he did not need to protect us at that moment.  He got so mad at other dogs who dared to pass by him.  We did not drink the coffee but we did buy pastries and ate them in the car as we left Solvang and headed toward Morro Bay.

Morro Bay is home to a huge rock, which is more like a really large hill, that sits hear the bay in the town of Morro Bay.  Scuba Divers and surfers in wet suits were jumping into the waters and soon emerging to wash themselves at the changing station adjacent to the walking path that we took from the parking area to the rock and back.  The rock is the center of attention in the town and has been a landmark to pioneers and travelers for centuries.  We walked the nice boardwalk there, letting Bo and Bushy use up some more energy and then got back in the car, bound for Big Sur.  The two main roads 101 and 1 divided soon and we were on the Big Sur Highway, going north toward San Francisco.  We took Hwy 1 and soon were on a two lane road with many stops for road construction and learned that once you are on the road you cannot get off of it until it ends nearly 100 miles later.

Big Sur has been in our vocabulary and public knowledge for a long time.  I had seen pictures of the waves crashing on the rocks down below all of my life.  I had heard its name through the years and expected it to be a tremendous sensory experience.  I guess I set myself up for disappointment.  It was not what I expected at all.  Perhaps that is because as one goes north and looks over at the ocean, there is a well constructed wall in many places that was built to prevent southbound drivers from falling into the ocean.  It does its job well because not once did I see anyone falling into the ocean on our trip but I also rarely saw waves crashing onto the rocks below because the well constructed wall prevents northbound drivers from seeing the ocean below except in the far distance where it is not doing anything except being the smooth ocean it usually is out in the distance.  So, the Big Sur Highway became this never ending series of curves and hills with occasional road construction thrown in that would not end until you emerged from it at Carmel By The Sea which was off of it.  I think if we had driven northward first on another highway and then had returned on Big Sur Highway we would have enjoyed it more.  Also if we had planned to spend a night along its way at a motel or campground and really explored the area we may have had a better time on it.  Our next trip there we will know what to do.

This ends part one of the journal of the journey.  Look for the next installment soon for the journey has only begun.  Much greater things are in store....