Sunday, January 21, 2007

Notes from the journey south.

My Dad once said that flying a jet entailed hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer panic. Driving I-5 can be like that, too. Hours of monotony through Oregon, and then we got a motel for the night in Medford, OR instead of tackling the icy Siskiyou pass in the dark. (Sheer panic averted). Sixteen mostly boring hours after starting out the next morning we found another motel near Hemet, CA. Not that we intended on going that far; we just couldn’t find a motel cheap enough for our tastes! On that stretch, however, we met our one big drama of the trip so far.

The gas gauge doesn’t work in our ‘87 Toyota Corolla, so we measure our gas needs by the trip odometer. Normally you can count on at least 300 miles to the 10 gallon tank. We’ve never loaded the car this full, though. Seven medium sized totes, six small totes, a car repair kit, one full size backpack, two small backpacks, a soft cooler, two kayaks, and a surfboard. Then there was the little or squishy stuff wedged in cracks: a pillow, an accordion, shoes, water bottles, jackets, a stuffed moose, and a stuffed seal.

On the first tank of the trip, the low fuel light came on at just 277 miles. Over the pass it lit up shortly after 250. In southern CA, everybody drives 80, so we went with the flow. In a long stretch of nothing, shortly after dark, the fuel light came on at just 245 miles. The main odometer was also about 7 miles from turning 200,000 miles. The race was on. What would happen first—would we run out of gas, turn 200,000, or find a gas station?

David dropped the speed to about 60, and we counted down. Passed an exit with no facilities. Next exit had fuel, but 2 miles away, according to the sign; most likely on Hwy 14 which was about to meet up with I-5 a few miles ahead. Odometer reading: 199,997.5. “Squeaky”, as we’ve taken to calling the little car on account of its noisy belt, hummed and squeaked all the way to the gas station like a champ! We put 10.4 gallons into a 10 gallon tank, and turned the odometer 200,000 on the on-ramp to Hwy 14 South.

Now we’re in Imperial Beach, staying at David’s roommate’s place which overlooks the Tijuana Estuary and beyond that, Mexico. Projects include changing Squeaky’s oil, re-roofing the addition to David’s mom’s house, outfitting some new-to-us kayaks, and other odd stuff. Estimated departure for Mexico—Tuesday.

Paddle on!