Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Road Trippin’
with Steve McCarthy

This month, I want to talk about another unusual Road Trip. Not that my Road Trip Heroes Louis Matter and Cannon Ball Baker and Brock Yates and Horatio Nelson Jackson and the intrepid teams of Guy Butcher and Eunice Kratky or Tod Styles and Buzz Murdoch are any lesser beings in the Pantheon of Road Trippers, but this guy has out done them all.
This guy has just completed 800 miles. OK, hardly a record breaker. But he didn’t use a car. Or a motorcycle. Or even a skate board. No, he walked. He took on the challenge to Walk the Missions. Yeah, like Fr. Serra more than 200 years ago. He walked. And walked. And walked.
This is going to be a bit awkward, perhaps, but this guy is also my second best friend (sorry, but my wife Marianne still out ranks him) and his name is Bill Morgan. And yes, he’s become a Hero, First Class. He has endured. Far more than you or I or anyone else I know has endured, except my Dad, who did a little hiking in his day under fairly adverse conditions. He of course “only” walked from about Paris to Pilsen, mostly in the winter and bad guys kept shooting at him. It was World War Two. And he had the benefit of being 20 years old. Bill is my age (OK, I can hear him now, he’s 6 months younger), overweight, out of shape, and only stopped smoking a few months ago. His “training” for this were several 2-5 mile walks without the 35 pound back pack he’d later heft. Most of us figured he’d be gasping for mercy somewhere between the mission in Sonoma and the 101. He proved us all wrong. Thankfully wrong.
He began in Sonoma on May 9 and as I’m writing this, is due in San Diego about June 26. He’s met the most amazing people along the way, had adventures none of us can even fathom. Almost all were positive, the only really negative encounter was with the cops on Ft. Hunter-Ligget who unceremoniously tossed him out, denying him the opportunity to visit Mission San Antonio.
He’s had blisters on blisters on his feet, and a few unlucky mishaps tweaked his back and hip all out of wack. To be honest, he needed help a few times and every time, an “Angel” turned up and gave him water, encouragement, and sometimes, when desperate, a lift. He’s camped, stayed in wonderful motels and crappy ones. He’s made more friends in the past two months than most people make in a life time. He didn’t do this with a support team and a van, or a camera crew, or any other aid, other than St. Serendipity and the Kindness of Strangers.
His chronicle is on Facebook under “Bill’s Camino Real” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bills-Camino-Real/548421088530757?ref=tn_tnmn and is mandatory reading. Even if you are one of those who despises the entire concept of Facebook, it’s worth the effort to set up a fake email account, then a fake Facebook page and read what he’s done.
What Bill has done goes far beyond the mere pilgrimage (and by the way, Bill is not a religious man, but he is a Spiritual Man. There is a difference). It goes beyond what he personally endured. It is an affirmation of John Locke’s view that Mankind is essentially good. That people are at heart, decent. That when left to make their own decisions, Human Beings will almost always Do the Right Thing. His blog on Facebook is filled with such stories.
From the kid who looked like a gang banger or skate boarding looser who guided him to the right path and a bench in the shade to rest, then disappeared, to the car load of girls who circled around to buy him some water and fruit, to the woman in her 70s who stopped, thinking “That old man shouldn’t be out walking in this heat” and gave him a lift to her campsite as his hip was about to give up on him, to the hotel staffs who gave him “Mission Walker Discounts” that they invented on the spot, to the people who bought him drinks in bars, or otherwise gave him encouragement, and the truckers who waved and moved over, these people proved that Locke, not Hobbes was right.
Bill has earned his place in our Hall of Fame. Bill has endured. I’m PROUD to call him MY FRIEND.

Following are some photos that he's posted, in no particular order. And BTW, he doesn't know I've done this. Yet.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Road Trippin’ 
with Steve McCarthy

The things you learn out on the Road! Like, in the Sequoia/Sierra Foothills, GPS, Googlemaps, Real Maps and Reality have no real relationship! And to make things even better, it seems like a) every other road is named “Auberry Rd” and b) the locals seem to think it’s GREAT fun to turn street signs 90 degrees. I kid you not! We all discovered this using last month’s Drive to the Center of the Earth directions. Just note, IF you do this drive, just head to North Fork what ever way you can. You’ll get a good meal at the Buckhorn, then, head back to Visalia however you can.
A couple of other notes about last months drive, the Brewbakers brew pub in Visalia is pretty good, but my steak was REALLY tough, esp. for the price, and Bravo Farms was good, but over prices, pretensious and slapped an automatic 18% gratuity on our table of 6. If we’d sat at seperate tables, no such charge! I told the poor waiter that if those are the rules, then he’d been cheated. I WOULD have given him more, but...Rules are Rules! I’d honestly give this place a miss, it’s just not worth the money.

The Day Three Drive takes me back to my old bus driving days, and adds some new roads that are FANTASTIC! Yokohl Valley Road is freaking SPECTACULAR!!! It nay be my new Favorite Road! It certainly ranks up there! Following that is the Dreaded Road to Quaker Meadows.
Constant readers will remember that I drove charter buses in my callow youth, and one run made a Man out of you. Quaker Meadows. It’s all the way at the top of Hwy 190 out of Porterville and has some hellacious hairpins that in a bus...well, lets just say you were a REAL driver if you made them in one cut.
At the top is a neat little place called the Pierpoint Springs Resort. We weren’t ready to eat again, but DAMN, did breakfast smell good there! Past there, WAY past there is a crossroads with another intriguing eatery, the Tapatio Cafe. It’s where Hot Springs Road and Old Stage Road meet. Good place to take a pee break. The place was empty, but it smelled good. Out side, E. Clampus Vitus has erected a monument to the most successful horse rustler in California history, Peg Leg Smith, “El Cojo”. It’s a great story and thank God for the Clampers for keeping the REAL history alive.
From there, it’s off to Woody, then the edge of Bakersfield and up to Tehachapi, Lunch at a new place called Red House BBQ or the old standby, the Village Grill. From there it’s an easy drive home over Angeles Crest.
I was tempted to call this drive the Jerry Dunphy Memorial Jaunt, because in the words of that legendary LA newscaster, we went “from the Mountains, to the Deserts, to the Sea, and to All of Southern California.”

Econo Lodge Sequoia Area
1400 S Mooney Blvd
Visalia, CA 93277

1. Head north on S Mooney Blvd toward W Tulare Ave 0.5 mi
2. Turn right onto W Noble Ave 184 ft
Merge onto CA-198 E/State Route 198 E
via the ramp on the left to State Route63 N 9.9 mi
3a. Turn right onto Yokohl Valley Rd 2.9 mi
4. Turn left onto M-296/Yokohl Valley Rd 18.1 mi
5. Turn left onto M-296/Yokohl Valley Dr 1.6 mi
6. Turn right onto Balch Park Rd/Springville-Milo Rd 6.1 mi
7. Turn left onto CA-190 E 4.6 mi
8. Turn right to stay on CA-190 E 10.1 mi
9. Turn left to stay on CA-190 E 2.3 mi
10. Turn left to stay on CA-190 E 2.7 mi
11. Turn left to stay on CA-190 E 4.1 mi
12. Continue onto Co Route 107 13.3 mi
13. Continue onto Great Western Divide Hwy 2.1 mi
14. Turn right onto Parker Pass Rd 11.9 mi
      Continue on Hot Springs Road
       Hard Left onto Old Stage Rd 1.9 mi
19. Slight left toward Jack Ranch Rd/M-10 Rd 131 ft
20. Continue straight onto Jack Ranch Rd/M-10 Rd
Continue to follow Jack Ranch Rd 5.4 mi
21. Slight right onto CA-155 W/Bakersfield-Glennville Rd 0.7 mi
22. Continue onto Granite Rd 23.5 mi
23. Keep right at the fork 0.6 mi
24. Turn left onto Round Mountain Rd 19.0 mi
25. Turn left onto China Grade Loop 0.4 mi
26. Slight left onto Alfred Harrell Hwy 0.4 mi
27. Slight left onto Old Alfred Harrell Hwy 0.9 mi
28. Turn right onto Mc Mannus Rd 0.1 mi
29. Turn left to merge onto Alfred Harrell Hwy 9.0 mi
30. Continue onto Comanche Dr 4.5 mi
31. Turn left onto Edison Hwy 2.1 mi
32. Continue onto Bena Rd 10.1 mi
33. Slight left onto Caliente Bodfish Rd 4.7 mi
34. Turn right onto Bealville Rd 2.0 mi
35. Turn left onto CA-58 E 4.9 mi
36. Take exit 139 toward Keene 0.1 mi
37. Turn left toward Woodford-Tehachapi Rd 430 ft
38. Turn right onto Woodford-Tehachapi Rd 8.8 mi
39. Turn left onto Westwood Blvd 1.4 mi
40. Turn left onto Red Apple Ave 0.8 mi
41. Continue straight onto W Tehachapi Blvd 1.4 mi
199 mi – about 6 hours 13 mins
Village Grill
410 East Tehachapi Boulevard
Tehachapi, CA 93561
Redhouse BBQ
426 E Tehachapi Blvd, Tehachapi, CA
(661) 822-0772
42. Head east on E Tehachapi Blvd toward S Hayes St 2.6 mi
43. Turn right onto Tehachapi Willow Springs Rd 20.2 mi
44. Continue onto 90th St 6.8 mi
45. Turn right onto CA-138 W/W Avenue D 8.0 mi
46. Turn left onto 170th St W 2.5 mi
47. Turn left onto W Avenue F 8/Lancaster Rd
Continue to follow Lancaster Rd 4.4 mi
48. Continue onto Fairmont-Neenach Rd 1.1 mi
49. Turn right onto Munz Ranch Rd 4.4 mi
50. Turn left onto Elizabeth Lake Rd 1.2 mi
51. Take the 2nd right to stay on Elizabeth Lake Rd 15.0 mi
52. Continue onto W Palmdale Blvd 0.8 mi
53. Merge onto CA-14 S via the ramp to Los Angeles 5.4 mi
54. Take exit 30 toward Angeles Forest Hwy 0.4 mi
55. Merge onto Sierra Hwy 0.1 mi
56. Turn left onto Angeles Forest Hwy 24.6 mi
57. Turn right onto CA-2 W/Angeles Crest Hwy 9.4 mi
You know your way home from here!
Hope you enjoyed the Drive, & we’ll see ya next year!