Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 7, 2007

See Our New Picture?

We almost barreled through that guardrail…Natalie is a crazy driver.

Just kidding.

We really did take that picture though.

-R

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 5, 2007

X Marks The Spot…

Our Actual Route.

4,223 Miles.

15 States.

10 Days.

Zero Tickets.

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 5, 2007

The Final Day

Today we drove from Napa to Ventura, CA.

I wanted to get on the road early so  I convinced Nat we should have breakfast in San Francisco.  I figured we could even see a thing or two along the way.

And then we passed the turn off for Sausalito and  breakfast in San Francisco was out the window.

Sausalito is a small town across the bay and to the north of San Fran.  It’s quaint, fun and has the best view of the city.  I remember falling in love with it the first time i visited (I was probably 5 years old)

Anyway, on the way there we caught a glimpse of the golden gate which was half covered in fog.  When we found an outdoor cafe that looked liek a good breakfast I realized ALL of San Francisco was covered in fog… Even though we were sitting in the sun.

Over the course of breakfast the fog started to break up.  First Alcatraz Island appeared from the fog and then some of the citie’s  skyline.  By the time we were done with breakfast the fog had completely cleared.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

After that we drove south over the golden gate and straight down to route 1 which runs parallel to the coast until well after LA.  The drive was beautiful – though I was surprised at the amount of ocean front land that is used for farming in northern California.  I imagined the coast would be dotted with cliff side mansions like the coast is in SoCal, but found only cows and grass.

Once we got to Ventura we had another first.  Nat’s first trip to In and Out Burger.

Turns out she wasn’t that impressed (and neither was I) as I had been hyping In and Out for over 4000 miles(I had been hyping myself up too)  Note:  It is probably a bad idea to eat at in Napa and then eat at a fast food chain (even InandOut) and expect to give someone a revelation.

Anyway I’m pretty tired and looking foreword to spending my first night in a real hote, so I’ll catch up with ya later.

-R

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 5, 2007

The end of the line…

Its unbelievable to me that the trip is winding down to the end!  Since my bro kind of freaked out about not having his towels…and big screen TV…we decided to head down to Ventura a day early…instead of staying around Napa and San Fran for another day.  We had a relaxing trip down the coast….breakfast in Sausalito which was beautiful!  Then drove down the Pacific Coast Highway.  At first the PCH was a little disappoint…and San Fran was really disappointing!  It was super cloudy and we kind of drove through a ghetto….but then it all ended up ok.

The clouds cleared up and the PCH actually ran along the coast, and the view was AMAZING!  If Ryan wasn’t yelling at me the whole time to watch the road and not kill him (which I was no where close to doing, just for the record) it would have been even better!  We were driving by one particularly stunning part of coast at about lunch time and happened upon this restaurant right on the cliffs.  Its was soo beautiful!  The sky was clear, the ocean was deep blue, and the cliffs were exotic.  Excellent place for lunch, but I couldn’t tell you the name of it if my life depended on it.

So we cruised around a little more…attempted to stop at the Hearst Mansion but it was closed, and kept on goin down to Ventura.  Now, Mike’s TV has been safely delivered and is no longer our obligation, and the odometer has been photographed to document the official 4,000+ miles that we drove in 10 days.

We don’t actually have to fly home until Thursday night, and  36 hours is plenty of time for Ryan and I to find some way of causing trouble…so I am sure that there will be more to write.  Until then…its been fun  :)

~Natalie

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 4, 2007

Napa/St. Helena… What A Blast

So we found this little campsite in downtown Napa.

I got up early this morning (8Am!)  without an alarm.  Anyway…

This morning after my shower I just kind of hung out under a walnut tree and waited for Nat to get up.

The first thing I saw were hot air balloons three of them launching into the rising sun.

Then three hummingbirds buzzed low and flirted overhead before dissapearing again.

A lady rode by on horseback,

Then a baby deer went bouncing by, bounding with all four legs at one time.

Did I mention the weather is perfect here?  And the residents think they’re having a heat snap.

Guess they haven’t been to Vegas lately.

The Wine.

We visited a whopping two wineries.

The frist, Beringer, we visited mostly for the tour.  Except, I signed up for the “basic” tour… which turned out to be so basic we didn’t learn anything about wine.  Apparently that’s possible.  My feelings were somewhat allayed by the nice bartender and the wine tasting that followed… but not much.

After that we visited a small family owned winery recommended by some locals we quizzed .

Following the directions of the GPS we whizzed right past what we would later realize was the winery.  When we got to the “right place” there was nothing but a gravel road that disappeared into a wine field without a welcome sign.  “Not going to discourage me, I thought as I turned.

I thought it again as the gravel road turned sharply left and turned to dirt.

Two turns later it became obvious we were on a goose chase.

Back on track at the winery we had a great time with people who genuinely loved what they do.  It is worth mentioning their pirate attitude as evidenced by a willingness to ship to any state in flagrant violation of the law.  (In accordance with the pirate code they will, of course remain nameless)

As an added bonus the tasting was free.

We had dinner at the Rutherford grill which was excellent and highly recommended.

So the tally for the end of the day was this: 1 tour(bad), 1 tasting(fun) and two(2)missed goals…  namely comming home with  stellar wine, and finding Nat some sweet wine she would really like.

I guess I’m just going to have to come back and try again another day.

-R

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 4, 2007

Wine Country

I’m not really sure what the last thing was that I wrote about…and I don’t really feel like looking back and catching up…so I am just going to talk about today.  (Also, I basically slept through all of yesterday while Ryan was driving.  Sleeping on a picnic table bench in Vegas got to me)

So now we are in the Napa Valley staying at this park right down the street from downtown Napa.  Apparently there have been mountain lion sightings there!  Like right in the park!  The most recent was August 31st…as in 3 days ago.  We are keeping our fingers crossed…

…that we see one!!!

Today we did the winery thing.  I’m not really into wines so much, but we had a blast!  The first place was a little intense.  We did the little tour thing which was kinda cool, for the first few minutes, but then the guy kinda sucked.  Then we did the tasting part and the bartender was really great.  I had a bunch of stupid questions for her because I don’t know anything about wine…and she was all over it!  For example, she said when we choose wines we should go down the list which was whites, then reds, then sweets.  I asked her why, and instead of being presumptuous and mean about it…she just explained that its like brushing your teeth before you have orange juice…the reds are sweeter than the whites and the sweets are sweeter than the reds.  The end.

Then we went to this little family run vineyard that was suggested to us by some ladies at Starbucks.  The guys running the place were hysterical!  We had a blast there.

After that I was definitely feeling like I needed some lunch (I actually mentioned to Ryan that I needed lunch after the first glass at the first winery… to no avail) We went to a restaurant called the Rutherford Grille which was awesome also. We had a great time with the waitress and I think she had fun with us too.  There was a little situation there….involving a dessert….but I’ll let Ryan explain.  All I am going to say is don’t make a bet with him…he will lie, cheat, and steal his way into winning.  ;)

Now after a failed attempt to take a glider ride through the Napa valley we are back at Starbucks.  Its pretty sad that our adventures are coming to an end, but that just means that we need to come up with another crazy idea!

NEXT STOP:  TBA

~Natalie

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 3, 2007

BunjeeJumping The Hoover Dam

 

Did you know the original crane they used to build the dam still exists today?

 

It’s a cable suspension crane that stretches from rim to rim of the canyon over the dam.

 

I know what you’re thinking…

 

That would be totally sweet to bungee jump from. I know.

 

For the record we didn’t do it. Maybe next time.

 

In the meantime I have a bone to pick with the Hoover dam historians.

 

On the tour they kept saying that the princiapal function of the dam was “water reclamation” for irrigaqtion and that the dam also produced enough power to “cover it’s operating costs.” And they were able in the first 50 years to “pay back the cost of the dam.” Does that strike you? Let’s do some math.

 

We paid 10$ each for a tour of the dam.

The website says over a million people take the tour every year.

 

That’s 10 million dollars a year (granted its gross) but the only real cost of the tour is staff.

 

And we haven’t even started in on revenue from the actual power.

 

Let’s talk about it – with hydro the fuel is free (water) so all you have to pay is overhead (ie hydro is really cheap to make)

 

Anyway on their website they brag they produce an average of 4.4 Billion KwH

 

Let’s say energy retails for .10cents per KwH(average for the west)

 

Then let’s also say that instead of taking all of the profit they wholesale it for 50% of retail to local municipalities who in turn resell it to the consumer.

 

That means: 4.4BillonKwH x .10 cents retail price X .5 (50% percent margin) = 220 million dollars per year.

 

Of course that number is also gross to you have to subtract out overhead and repairs… but the thing is made of concrete (cheap) and generators (long life) and practically runs itself (low staffing requirements)

 

Please tell me how a dam that costs 150 Million still only “pays its expenses” when it’s raking in 230 million gross dollars every year?

 

Those numbers just don’t add up.

 

-R

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 3, 2007

The Grand Canyon

Big.

The grand canyon is big.  And wide.  Really wide.

And contrary to what I thought there isn’t much around it.

Here are some facts:

An average of 1 person per day is rescued from the grand canyon.

The grand canyon is almost 300 miles long

It is a 6 mile hike from the rim of the canyon to the river.  You cannot hike down and back in one day.

We took 45 minutes to hike 1.5 miles into the canyon and 90 minutes to hike back.

We drank over a gallon of water hiking said three mile stint.

Any trail you take is enhanced by the smell of mule.

Hiking three miles on the kaibab trail completely wore me out.

-Ryan

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 2, 2007

Mini Update

Las Vegas is HOT!  Like 110 degrees hot!  Ryan and I had some crazy camp site in the middle of a parking lot and ended up sleeping on picnic table benches because it was so hot.

The strip was pretty neat though.  Crazy people.  Cool experience though.  Check the pictures…we are trying to keep them updated!

NEXT STOP:  Not sure?!?

~Natalie

Posted by: wildroadtrip | September 2, 2007

Arizona-Nevada Adventures!

This morning Ry and I got up bright and early…well actually…he woke up before me and I had a dream that he was yelling at me to wake up and started taking down the tent around me while I was sleeping.  In actuality, I think he was brushing his teeth.  In any case, I decided to get up.

We got on the road and after overruling the GPS lady who was trying to take us on the scenic route out of the camp grounds, we made it to the highway.  It didn’t take long before we fully in the desert.  I am talking nothing-can-live-here desert….not even the trademark three pronged cactuses that Arizona likes to put all over their signs but don’t really exist in real life!  There weren’t even mobile homes here!  Which really means that there is nothing because almost everywhere else we have pasted, there are mobile homes….or huts.

We did however drive through this one town in the middle of the desert.  Kingston Arizona.  Never heard of it?  Neither had we….but its pretty big…and basically the only thing that exists out there.  So we stopped for gas, at a Cracker Barrel to return a book on tape, and the bank.  But we high tailed it out of there as soon as possible because it was about as red-neck as you can get…and not in a good way!  The desert was better.

Another funny thing that Ryan and I have forgotten to mention is the signs out here.  They are great!  In the west, they like to be specific about what animals might cross the road….if animals could actually live here. We have seen normal signs like “deer crossing” but we have also seen antelope and ram (or what we think may be an antelope or a ram) crossing as well as general “animal crossing”  But the funniest part is that they tell you for how many miles you should watch out for.  So it might be antelope crossing for 15 miles, then deer crossing for 10, then general animal crossing for 25.  Its great!  Also, like you can see from our new header picture, there are certain places where  cows roam free and cross the road!  These crazy westerners!  :)

Ok, so back to our adventures.  We stopped at the Hoover Dam on the way to Vegas.  It is really pretty amazing!  I really didn’t have any idea how it worked, but we got there and had a wonderful tour and now I feel a little smarter  :)  But, again, a little bit of irony.  The Hoover Dam is renowned as a civil engineering wonder of the world and yet they have this road that runs over it that is a complete traffic nightmare!  But, after almost 70 years, they finally got smart and are building a bypass bridge that will route through traffic away from the dam.

As a side note, it was 117 degrees on top of the Hoover Dam. Im pretty sure that is the hottest temperature I have ever been in…and every hope to be in.

Now we are in Vegas.  Talk about a culture shock going from the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas!  We haven’t really explored much yet because we have wireless internet at the campsite and wanted to take advantage of it while we could!  Also, its like 110 degrees here so we are waiting for it to cool off a little bit.

So thats it for now!  I’ll write more when I have some crazy Vegas stories to tell!

~Natalie

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