Kage Baker was a firm believer in the adage that the point of a journey is the journey itself.
Often, for her, it was; we’d set off with no goal or destination in mind, just to be travelling. The things we found (or lost) along the way were incidental. The main thing was The Journey.
I find that still to be true for me. All the times I driven up and down the length of California – and still, the charm and magic of the road are a huge part of why I do it at all. When I am alone, I love the solitude; when I have passengers, I love the company. And always, everywhere, I love the road.
I took I-5 up to Santa Clara today. Comparing routes between I-5 and 101, the former was supposedly 30 minutes briefer than the latter. And I-5 in early summer is beautiful. At any time at all, it’s weird and entertaining.
Corn was reaching knee-high, and there were miles of tomatoes and peppers glowing red and orange amid their green leaves. The first cutting of fodder has left ziggurats of olive-green bales everywhere. The fruit trees are all draped in nets like wedding veils, to keep off the birds. Sometimes it even works, but it’s always pretty to see …
Of course, the time quoted by Google Maps was predicated on there being no other cars on the road, I think. Certainly, on no disasters. So a considerable crimp was put in my speediness when traffic began to slow and lanes began to close on the approach to the Grapevine. It took 45 minutes to get from Pyramid Lake to Quail lake – though the reason was clear once I cam abreast of it: a merrily burning VW van. Luckily, the firemen had it under control so it did not ignite the grasslands up there, but it took quite a while to get past.
Other than that classic sight, though, it was an uneventful drive. It never got very hot. I saw an interesting zoo’s worth of road kill animals – the usual faking coyotes and owls with poor depth perception, but also a badger. And a goat. A dead goat on the side of I-5 is very unusual; and while it was also very dead, the little cloven hooves and goat horns identified it pretty well. You don’t get jackalopes this far West.
No redcaps this trip. However, there was a one-armed man thumbing beside the road near Lost Hills. Very strange. And I can’t imagine the poor dude was going to find someone willing to pick him up. He was – alarming looking.
There wasn’t even traffic through the Pacheco Pass, or on the 101 to Santa Clara; which is astonishing! And I made it safely to the hotel and got my creaky self inside – my wheelie luggage is a life saver. I’ve checked in at the con, although the badges for the Program Participants are not available yet – but I already have 4 neat stickers to put on it when I get it. I’m not one of those mad enthusiasts who has a tail of stickers longer than they’re tall pendent from my badge, but I do appreciate the really funny ones.
I also indulged in a truly remarkable dinner. They’ve changed the menu again here at the Hyatt Regency – that’s an advantage of visiting at yearly intervals; I don’t get bored with the food. Tonight I threw sense to the winds and had a rib-eye steak with herbed butter melting on it – a buttered steak, no wonder I have heart attacks! But the risotto with beets in was not only delicious and probably good for me, it was an amazing neon burgundy colour. And then there was the crostini with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with house-made fig preserves and clotted cream on the side … Kage would have teased me about the exotica, but she’d have admired the artistry. And my stomach is very, very happy.
I’ve got a bucket of ice and lots of water; a comfy armchair, a view of the West, and a soft bed waiting. I look forward to a lovely quiet evening, before all the excitement begins tomorrow.
But right now … there appears to be a handball game going on against the wall out in the corridor. And much giggling. I think I will go frighten some of the younger generation of Con attendees.