When last you heard from us we were leaving the Bay area to travel down the coast. First stop Santa Cruz with the University of California, Santa Cruz. Guess what their mascot is? Are you ready for this? The banana slug! Go Slugs! From Wikipedia:
UCSC’s mascot is the banana slug. In 1981, when the university began participating in NCAA intercollegiate sports, the then-chancellor and some student athletes declared the mascot to be the “sea lions.” Most students disliked the new mascot and offered an alternative mascot, the banana slug. In 1986, students voted via referendum to declare the banana slug the official mascot of UCSC—a vote the chancellor refused to honor, arguing that only athletes should choose the mascot. When a poll of athletes showed that they, too, wanted to be “Slugs,” the chancellor relented.
UCSC was beautiful, in a redwood forest! Had world’s hippest RV park. We were excited to see student protesters living in trees–they don’t want them cut down for campus expansion. They also had a group banging on drums in the parking lot as part of the protest–unfortunate, because I had a headache and was hoping to grab a nap! It was still good to see/hear student involvement, like the old days. But the campus is totally separated from the town, which is very yuppified and expensive.
We camped at Laguna Seca Campground–which is above the Laguna Seca Race track. So, we were awakened by the Sunday morning races! Local car clubs rent the track for the day—John enjoyed watching. A volunteer living in an RV said they went on the road looking for a new home – fourteen years ago!
Then we started down the famous Pacific Coast Highway—Route 1, Big Sur, 72 miles of beauty. On the right, the rugged coast with waves crashing below us, and on the left, the wilderness and mountains! And of course, California sunshine all of the way! John drove, so I got to look out and say “Wow!” at every turn. (John & old friend, Chip, drove this way in the 60′s, hiked, and got poison oak). It is a twisting, winding road with lots of pull off areas, so the driver can also ooh and awe. Had a specular roadside lunch near Esalen:
Esalen Institute, is a center in Big Sur, California, in the United States, for humanistic alternative education and a nonprofit organization devoted to multidisciplinary studies ordinarily neglected by traditional academia. Esalen offers more than 500 public workshops a year in addition to invitational conferences, residential work-study programs, research initiatives, and internships. Part think-tank for the emerging world culture, part college and lab for transformative practices, and part restorative retreat, Esalen is dedicated to exploring work in the humanities and sciences that furthers the full realization of what Aldous Huxley called the human potential.
We had dinner at Morro Bay near Morro Rock. We camped at Montana de Oro (Mountain of Gold) Campground. Great stars, view of Comet Holmes, surf sound. I had a lovely walk on the beach the next morning.
We continued down the coast to Ventura, below Ojai where John lived. Met our friends from Pittsburgh, Dorit and Frank for dinner at Andria’s–outdoor take-out seafood restaurant at the harbor. They have been here for about a year and they want to move back to Pittsburgh!!! Dorit has been working on her book—she rode on her motorcycle and explored different labyrinths across the country. She is a German reflexologist who was trained in Israel–a fascinating woman! http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06208/708826-57.stm Frank is a professional arborist–they miss their friends and family back home and Frank is a huge Steelers fan –go Stillars!
So good to see John again. I met him when we came out for a backpacking trip in 2004. He told us about the many fires they have had in the Ojai area. John is the original “van man” —he does live in his van and loves his simplified life. He appears to be very happy and needs nothing–except a little fresh food now and then. John advises that it is easy for one person to live in a van–complicated by two souls sharing the same small space! We can agree to that–we have decided that three nights of RVing and then a motel work best. Call me crazy, but I like being able to control the water temperature in my shower, although I have gotten really good at taking 6 minute showers (average time for coin operated showers in state parks).
So on to Santa Barbara Airport and lunch with Jay H. –John’s old friend from Churchill. Once again, beautiful outdoor dining in November! Good to see Jay–he’s a really busy attorney and house rehabilitator–planning to retire to Santa Barbara and their new house in Panama next year. Way to go, Jay!
After leaving Jay, we started (way too late) toward San Deigo and had to see the many horrible lanes of traffic with one person in each car. People do this every day??? I was way too stressed doing it just one time and John was driving! We finally figured out that we were eligible for the HOV lane and we zoomed by the others. It really is insanity!! Arrived at Molly and Dan’s somewhat frazzled, so good to be settling in for awhile.
Molly’s close neighbors were lucky to excape the fires (except for ashes and very poor air quality). However, just down the hill many homes have been lost. It is odd the way two houses on a cul-de-sac are completely lost and the others are still standing with no apparent damage.
We attended a free concert in the park given by the San Diego Symphony—”a concert for heroes”–very nice. The contrasts were amazing though–some green in the park but all around is charred and burned–the trails in the area are closed–but the dog parks are open! There is still discrimination:
We have continued to look for housing and are trying to focus on one or two spots–very hard! We read a quote last night that could be our slogan:
Have no destination, and you will not get lost.