3.8 Ship’s Log March 17, 2011

There is only one cure for a severe attack of itchy feet and that is get on the road again.  Yesterday, I did the entire pre-launch countdown of haircut, laundry, post office run, drugstore run, and Costco run.  Ignition and liftoff was at 7 p.m..  If you were outside at that hour you might have seen the vapor trail.

I decided on I-5 since I’d be driving at night.  Nothing improves the look of I-5 like darkness.   By 9:30 p.m. I was a hundred miles down the road at the Santa Nella exit and ready for a pit stop.  I stretched out on the settee and it felt good.  I closed my eyes and it felt better.  I got up to get my sleeping bag to throw over me and went back to the settee.  Seven hours blew by.  At 4:30 a.m. it was 42 degrees and I was wide-awake.

I fired up the engine and turned the heater up to Roast.  I have a good heater but the Jolly Swag is a cavern and must barf BTUs out of her acres of windows glass.  I laid in the trajectory for Buttonwillow, set the throttle at 12.5 mpg, and watched the stars go by.

First light arrived at 7:15 a.m., gauzy daylight followed.  At 8:10 a.m. I put on the left turn signal.  With sigh so exuberant it surprised me, I celebrated the rounding of the buoy at Buttonwillow that marked the end of my southing in California and the beginning of my easting.

The Buttonwillow exit marks a sleepy town a couple miles west.   But the interstate intersection is a traveler’s stop with a full complement of fast food, and cheap motels.  Fuel prices posted in lighted two-foot high numerals in red for gasoline and green for diesel which is now well over a dollar a gallon higher than when I cast off less than six months ago.

I steer into my well-worn spot behind Starbucks for a snooze some free wi-fi, and to note some of the ideas that vie for attention in the mind of a solitary night-time driver.

It is good to be on the road, I feel my Inner Children waking up and wanting to go out and play.

At 6 p.m. I spy a rest area near Boron on rte # 58 east.  A 275-mile day.


17 Responses to 3.8 Ship’s Log March 17, 2011

  1. Anne Fox says:

    What a pleasure to be en route again, enjoying miles of unmatched metaphors and singular similes.

  2. Dave L says:

    I agree wtih Anne, and so must you as this little piece seems more natural, free-flowing, and strikes a mood that goes well with the soft jazz I am listening to.

  3. Vikki williams says:

    Those of us who are landlocked are serendipitously traveling your road with you and delighting in your wonderfully honed descriptions of all that appears in your adventures and fancies and fantasies of the past months.

  4. MaryAnne says:

    Good on U, Al…….back on the trail!!!!
    I admire your spunk…setting out at 7PM and driving into the darkness. It was 93 in Parker,AZ yesterday and I was luvin’ it. After those 2 weeks in N. CA I finally slept a night without my heater on. Hadn’t done that since I left Colorado.
    You are going to be toasty warm soon, fellow traveler.


  5. Vernon Dolphin says:

    The stars at night tell you the truth of what you do. But there are people out there, so the media remind us, who cloud our vision of the universe. Do you heed the fear mongers? Do you have fears? If so how do you respond to them?


    Please add my daughter to your list. She and my other four kids traveled over so many of the miles you have traversed, and camped under the stars, she would enjoy your friendly observations.

    • allevenson says:

      I do approach strangers, in part it is what this trip is about. If I approach them in safe places, most people are forthcoming for a few minutes. People let me know when I am intrusive–I should say overly intrusive. Rest areas and visitor centers sometimes yield a good yarn. Coffee shops are fertile fields as well. I’ve yet to exploit small town diners and I doubt if I will venture in to Steinbeck’s favorites: bars and churches.

      The one set of hitchhikers I picked up was a positive experience for me and the readers of this blog. But that may be pushing my own limits. Yet I do want to seek out the disadvantaged and society’s castoffs. I am not sure how accessible they are or want to be. And I do get cautious when I might be putting myself in harm’s way.

  6. Colleen Rae says:

    I am right there with you Al. Many is the time I drove the route you are on, turning off at Buttonwillow and driving over the Tahachipi Pass toward Mohave on my way to visit my parents who retired across the river from Parker, AZ in Earp, CA. (BTW, the film, Erin Brockovich dealt with a town right near Boron). I know that road well. I’ve stayed at the top of the Pass, in a cheap motel in Mohave, in several diff. motels in Bartow, and a few in Needles. It is deathly cold at night in the desert this time of year. But the days are lovely and warm. You should experience some spring flowers just beginning to bloom in the desert. Happy travelin’.

  7. Colleen Rae says:

    Al – I meant to say it is deathly cold in the desert ‘at night’ this time of year.

  8. karen wittgraf says:

    Couldn’t help but think of the line in “Streetcar” of Blanche DuBois “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”. Some may not be so kind..but, you certainly know that. Wrap that scarf around your neck that Jane made and stay warm at night. I envy your adventure and wish I had the courage that you have.I don’t even go in restaurants alone…shy, sheltered, silly me.

  9. I understand the spirit of your sense of freedom while on the road, but right now I cannot empathize. I think if I were to go somewhere or be enroute somewhere, finding myself far from home, I would be lonesome to death. This is a phase I am going through.

  10. Ahhhh, Buttonwillow! My wife and I spent our first honeymoon night at the Super 8 at the Buttonwillow turnoff. We went to sleep to the roar of traffic and clanking of the air conditioner.

    And now, whenever we drive by there, we heave a sigh: Oh! The memories!

  11. Al,

    I thought we might see you when you were in the Bay Area. Life in the business is hectic as always. Good news is; we are closing some and keeping the rent paid. Your travels are a pleasure to read. Keep up the good work. All the best

    Michael and Patty

  12. I’ve been reading for over an hour and I’ve discovered that reading several posts in a row puts me in your shoes as if I were there cruising along the highway visiting with the guy that carries a .45 on his hip and finding Roy again and Doris walking across America.

    Back in 1999, I was planning to spend a summer on the road then I met my wife and we started dating.

    The best I did that summer was a backpacking trip into Yosemite where a friend and I camped out for a week after climbing to more than 11,000 feet from where we parked his van then descended into a breathtaking area of seven lakes to pitch a tent before trout fishing.

    Nothing like fresh trout each night fried in olive oil. I still remember waking at 2 AM to the sound of a deer licking the side of my tent then leaving the sleeping back to go outside to stand under a sea of stars while around me shadowy, silent giants swayed with the wind.

    No sigh then. Held my breath and didn’t want the moment to end. That was a memory I slipped into my pocket to keep.

    • allevenson says:

      And a nice picture you paint, m’lad, a moment to put a smile on your face as you draw you last breath.

      And you remind me of an item on my bucket list. Freshly caught trout–in a black iron fry pan on a wood fire–for breakfast.


  13. Irv Hamilton says:


    It’s fascinating how names create such strong images.
    Boron is a place I have no interest in visiting, based solely on its name. I’ve never been there, though I’ve been close on several occasions. No doubt there is a lot of history there. It might even be an interesting to live. I doubt I will ever know.

    Now Buttonwillow is another story. The name brings up images of a song sung to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. It creates a desire to read a childrens’ book by that title.
    I imagined quaint houses with actual lawns and flowers.

    On one trip to the south, I saw the freeway exit sign for Buttonwillow and took it to see the storybook place.

    I saw nice homes and shopping centers and parks and schools. It was pleasant. But it was flat and kind of ordinary looking. It was not the setting for a wildly popular movie based on a very special place made famous by a book.

    In the process I learned several things. One is to base judgments on what is real, no just on the sound of a name. Another lesson was that it is often better to enjoy fantasies as fantasies, rather than insert reality. By doing so you can often — though not always — protect yourself from disappointment.

    In the meantime, I’m going to take a look at a California map. I may want to check out Boron one of these days. Who knows. It may be a pleasant and interesting place to visit.

    Irv Hamilton

    • allevenson says:

      Both towns have stories. I have notes that I may write up one day. I seem to discover new, interesting places and people before I have time to write about the last encounter.

      Borax is an odd material. Over 4000 uses have been discovered for it. The story of the 20-mule teams is an interesting piece of history.

      Buttonwillow is a poor town. Far more business takes takes at the fast food joints and filling stations at the I-5 interchange. Buttonwillow has a story about the large and unregulated waste dump that was built nearby unbeknowst to the town’s population.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s