Home to Lithia from Santa Monica

    As we realized the amount of miles and of course smiles, we had been through over the last few weeks, it was time to bid a fond farewell to Gael and Chaz.  At least to Gael, since she was taking a plane to Santa Rosa to visit the most adorable Grandson in the world, named Spencer.  Chaz was going to drive across the country with his friend, Pete, who had flown out from Atlanta for the trip.  After a couple of days in Santa Monica for R&R:

    ..we were ready to start our trip home.

    We left Santa Monica bright and early Saturday morning.  We drove the Pacific Coast Highway, heading toward San Diego.  Driving along and enjoying the beautiful ocean view we were still feeling relaxed, until we hit the freeway.  Yes, we encountered the famous LA traffic jams.

    Really don't want to repeat that again soon!! Our friends, Bill and Linda, (AKA the fly over gang), were awaiting our arrival.

    We had arranged to stay at the 4 points Sheraton; we would not recommend it, as we had numerous problems.  Bill and Linda picked us up in their rental car and we were off to see some sites.  Old town was first on our list.  A bit of shopping was done and then we found out that we could get on a Ghost tour that evening and we were off.

    The trolley took us to several ghostly sites and then back to Old Town.  I think Billy is still wondering if the lady in black on the stairs was real or not.  Did you see her Linda?

    Sunday, it was off to Embarcadero Marina Park in Seaport Harbor for the Plastic Fantastic car show.

    There we met Chaz and his new companion, Pete.

    See Chaz does clean his car once in a while!

    We even found a new tire product by Bert of Oceanside, CA

    Bill and Linda arrived at the show around noon, and we left to do some more sight seeing.  First on our list was Hotel Del Coronado (the Del):

    had a great lunch:

    ..and then went to explore the hotel grounds.

    It was very beautiful, but very crowded.  We even peeked at some rooms.  Looks nice.  This hotel is supposed to be haunted, but there were no ghosts showing themselves to us.

    It was then back to their room to celebrate our gathering on the West Coast with a bottle of champagne.  Billy found out that there are more uses for wastebaskets than throwing things in them.  How about that for a large ice bucket? What we would do without great friends.  Found a restaurant not too far away from their hotel, the Lighthouse restaurant, and had a great dinner on appetizers.  Yes, we continue to eat.  It was hard to say goodbye, but we knew that they were flying home to check our pool!!!

    Monday, found us at the San Diego Zoo.  We have heard so much about it that we just had to go.  The weather was once again beautiful.  Actually a bit on the cool side, which turned out perfect for us, as we did do a lot of walking up and down the hills.

    The Pandas were so cute.  The lines to see them weren't too long, and the wait was worth it.  The baby was up in a tree and very hard to photograph.

    Yes, we ate once more at the zoo, in Albert's tree house.  We would recommend this restaurant, if you want a little time out of the hustle and bustle.  We dined on the deck and it was truly like being in a tree house.

    Another one of our favorite exhibits was the Polar Bears, one was particularly playful and Jackie could have spent hours watching him.

    Another great day in what has been a trip of very great days, until we got back to our room and found a little surprise.  Yes, we opened the door to find no sheets on the bed.

    Just one of the hurdles we had to overcome at this hotel.

    Tuesday, we were glad to say good-bye to the Sheraton, and for the first eighty miles or so the roads were wonderful.  Lovely winding roads, through the mountains - some just slightly green, others brown and rocky - we reached an elevation of around 4000 feet:

    ..and then drove down to El Centro which is below sea level, green and lush, (from being irrigated), then to mountains of sand.

    What a diverse change of topography all within several hours.

    We stopped in Yuma at Penney's Diner, as we were still in the Route 66 mode.  The temperature began to climb, and the desert came into being.  Saguaro cacti stand majestically along the roadside.  By the time we reached Tucson triple digits were showing on our outside temperature gauge.  We had awakened with temps in the 50's.  What would this trip have been like back in the thirties, with no air-conditioned cars? We are very spoiled.  Out in the desert before we hit Tucson, AZ, we saw what looked to be another storage area for large airplanes.

    Wednesday, we left the Doubletree @ Reid Park, a very fine establishment, for Van Horn, TX.  We had decided to make yet another touristy stop.  Tombstone, AZ was only a small detour out of our way.  Anyone, who has watched TV, knows that you can't pass up the OK Corral.  Had a great breakfast at the OK Café:

    ..and then went to explore the town.  At the entrance to town one finds the infamous Boot Hill.  A very well maintained cemetery and a small guidebook can be purchased for only a $1.00.

    Because we spent more time than expected in Tombstone and even that was nowhere long enough:

    ..we hit El Paso at rush hour.  Coming in east of town we hit an amazing dust storm.

    Maybe it was no big deal for them, but it was very interesting and somewhat scary for us.

    Thursday, we left Van Horn, TX for San Antonio, where we had planned on staying two nights.  The ride was quite boring with lots of dust and sagebrush.  The temperature stayed around 102 degrees, and our AC was really working overtime.

    We checked into the Riverwalk Hotel and basically walked right out to explore the Riverwalk area.  Weather was warm, with a beautiful breeze, a great evening to walk and eat al fresco.  Of course it was fun people watching too.

    Friday, we took the Riverwalk boat tour and also a short trolley tour of the city.

    One of the sites I would recommend, besides the Alamo, was the San Jose Mission, a very large Mission in decent condition.  We found it very educational and interesting as well.

    We also found several shopping districts.  One area had a wonderful small glass blowers shop.  Had to laugh, he asked for a 10cent-admission fee, and you would be surprised how many people just walked in and left nothing.  As he said "That separates the Riff from the Raff." On display there was a glass carousel, that actually turned, this was an extremely intricate piece.

    It was a great day for us, to be away from driving.  We even had the opportunity to stretch our legs as a false fire alarm was set off by a small child.

    Saturday was back on the road.  No time for sightseeing, not that there was much to see.  The weather remained cooperative but hot.  We stayed that night in Baton Rouge.  LA.

    Sunday, brought us to Marianna, FL where we were meeting our friends, Jim and Charley Robertson for dinner.  They asked if we would mind going to a church dinner with them.  Of course we would go.  First we stopped by their home, where we were heartily greeted by them and their lovely dogs.  They have two very well behaved dogs I might add.  They presented us with a photograph, that they had taken of us during the Birthday Bash at the NCM driving a C6.  We then left for their church, where their priest, Father Paul, had prepared a dinner for several of the Church Schoolteachers.  It was a wonderful dinner, delicious home cooked food.  Remember that we had now been on the road for five weeks, so this was truly a meal we enjoyed.  After a very enjoyable evening, it was off to the hotel for one more night before hitting home.

    We both got up rather early the next morning and decided to hit the road.  We thought we were leaving really early, but forgot that the time change was just down the road.  Off we went in the most fog I have seen in a long time.  I thought of Frank Freon telling us about LeMans and having to look out the window and follow the white line along the track.  Well, if it worked for him at 200+ miles per hour, it should work for us at a slower speed.  I have to say, it did.  We could smell home and really wanted to get there.

    We decided to take route 19 down along the coast, as Billy had always wanted to go that way, and found it to be a joy to drive.  Also, we stopped for breakfast at a place that proclaimed to have the best Key Lime pie in the state.  I have to say that Jackie did mention that it was too early for sweets.  The ride from Crystal River to home was just highway and very uneventful.  However, it was the end to a trip that we would recommend to anyone, and will most likely do again.

    Both of us can't THANK Chaz and Gael Cone enough for being there with us for all the FUN! Not only for their help on the trip itself, but also for having the idea and helping out with the planning over the last year or so.

    Chaz was the one who really put together the website on a daily basis and let you all know what we were doing and where we went.

    I would also like to publicly THANK my wonderful wife, Jackie for putting up with me for the five weeks in the car, and most of all for navigating us throughout the country.  I love you and could not have done it without you.  Just remember:

      "You're Still The One"

      We've been together since way back when
      Sometimes I never want to see you again
      But I want you to know, after all these years
      You're still the one I want whisperin' in my ear

      You're still the one I want to talk to in bed
      Still the one that turns my head
      We're still having fun, and you're still the one

      I looked at your face every day
      But I never saw it 'til I went away
      When winter came, I just wanted to go
      Deep in the desert, I longed for the snow

      You're still the one that makes me laugh
      Still the one that's my better half
      We're still having fun, and you're still the one

      You're still the one that makes me strong
      Still the one I want to take along
      We're still having fun, and you're still the one

      Changing, our love is going gold
      Even though we grow old, it grows new

      You're still the one that I love to touch
      Still the one and I can't get enough
      We're still having fun, and you're still the one

      You're still the one who can scratch my itch
      Still the one and I wouldn't switch
      We're still having fun, and you're still the one

      You're still the one that makes me shout
      Still the one that I dream about
      We're still having fun, and you're still the one...