CAFor Kay and me, our first joint sighting of the Golden State was upon touching down at the airport in San Francisco. It seemed like stepping into a refrigerator, having boarded the plane in sizzling Phoenix, Arizona.

 

Kay and I rented a hotel room for a week in bustling downtown San Francisco, a wellspring of sights and sounds and smells. The sight of pedestrians and street performers combined with the sounds of the cable cars and the smell of gourmet coffee and fresh seafood and sourdough from just around the corner.

 

Gary at Golden Gate BridgeWe once had our caricature drawn at Fisherman’s Wharf and walked halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge overlooking postcard-perfect San Francisco Bay. We’ve stood there and seen impressive glimpses of Alcatraz Island, the Pacific Ocean and an unforgettable view of the city jutting into the bay.

 

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, we’ve walked the sidewalks at the university campus at Berkeley, where less than three decades before, the cry for peace and sanity fell on the deaf ears of U.S. politicians; we’ve shared white grapes together while driving the winding roads of California wine country in the Napa Valley; we’ve explored Cannery Row on a bright sunny day in Monterey, as like characters in a Steinbeck novel; and we’ve commuted through other Bay Area cities such as Oakland, San Mateo, Vallejo and Fremont.

 

Kay sits outside a winery in California's Napa Valley.

Kay sits outside a winery in California's Napa Valley.

 

 In close proximity to the Bay Area, we’ve spent chunks of time studiously working in Silicon Valley, that hub being massive San Jose.  Staying in that city let us fan out back into the Bay Area to places up the peninsula such as Palo Alto, site of Stanford University, as well as over to Milpitas, in the other direction.

 

 

 

We found that we can get dizzy dumping out of the Bay Area by taking that spinning spill down into Santa Cruz, where they’ve even got an East Coast-style Boardwalk, complete with carnival rides!

 

  

Gary films on Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Gary films on Santa Cruz Boardwalk

In northern California, we’ve mingled with the towering redwoods from the Avenue of the Giants to the Redwood National Forest on the upper Pacific coast. It was in that beautiful shady redwood forest that Kay and I drove our car through a giant sequoia! From Redding in northern California, we’ve driven to the shadows of snow-covered Mt. Shasta and the blue-green waters of Lake Shasta down below.  We’ve leveled off at a compromise between Pacific-level and the vaporlock zones on the plateaus at Chico and Susanville.  Only to climb back into nosebleed territory at the dizzying heights at Lassen Volcanic Park.

Kay poses beneath a towering sequoia in the redwood forest of northern California.
Kay poses beneath a towering sequoia in the redwood forest of northern California.

We’ve rolled down from the jewel of all mountain lakes, Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevadas, and across fabled Donner Pass and over pine-studded mountain vistas down into the thriving California hub of Sacramento. Kay and I have based our working operations out of Sacramento, with its abundant flowers and trees, rippling river rapids and warm days followed by gloriously cool nights. In the southern Sierras we did our token playing – Dadvarmit! – at Yosemite Park, where we took our turn to snap obligatory shots of El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.  We had the honor of seeing 14, 494 foot Mt. Whitney, highest point in the contiguous 48 United States. We’ve navigated the winding, climbing road that leads up to Sequoia National Park and to General Sherman, giant sequoia tree with the distinction of being the largest living thing on earth. It was near there one Easter Sunday that I got an unexpected up-close look at the first bear in the wild I’d ever seen…coming right at me until Kay alerted me of its presence.

 

Posing at Yosemite Falls (top photo); Yosemite Park captured in granite as Gary demos (bottom photo)

Yosemite Kay: Posing at Yosemite Falls (top photo); Yosemite Park captured in granite as Gary demos (bottom photo)

Gary at Yosemite

 We’ve traveled the Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu in the south through lovely Santa Barbara to breathtakingly beautiful high, rocky cliff overlooks of the surf crashing against the rocks at San Simeon and Big Sur, all the way up to Carmel in the north.

  

Kay on the Pacific Coast Highway south of Big Sur

World-class scenic drive: Kay on the Pacific Coast Highway south of Big Sur

 We’ve transversed the big Central Valley, otherwise known as the San Joaquin Valley, from Stockton at the top of the Grapevine Highway to Bakersfield at the bottom, passing through the cities of Modesto, Fresno, Visalia and lots and lots of farmland along the way.

 

 
Kay with RAISIN grapevines drying in the sun of the Central Valley (above), and Kay on the rollicking lost hills on US 101, somewhere in California (below)

Two middles: Kay with RAISIN grapevines drying in the sun of the Central Valley (above), and Kay on the rollicking lost hills on US 101, somewhere in California (below)

Kay on 101 

 California, being the most varied state in the country, has more than one “spine” running up it, and you might say that there are multiple “central Californias”.  The San Joaquin Valley and the Grapevine is one, all right, but there’s another central California that’s got scenery like none other in the rest of the country.  It’s right out of the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant, and we’re talking the almost caricaturish rolling hills along US 101 and vicinity that Kay and I have observantly remarked about as we “rolled” along.  It includes the towns of Salinas, Paso Robles, Santa Maria – all the way down to Buellton and just almost to where the hills turn into mountains at Santa Barbara, that classiest of surfside towns Kay and I lounged in.  Oh, and that pea soup that Andersen’s advertises on the billboards on 101 really is good, too, by the way.

Kay plays it cool overlooking the beach at Santa Barbara, Calif.

California girl: Kay plays it cool overlooking the beach at Santa Barbara, Calif.

 

 We’ve cruised down dark desert highways in the Mojave Desert, winds in our hair, searching for a Hotel California, but finding only more unforgiving wasteland. We’ve been brave enough to venture into Death Valley, lowest in altitude and hottest locale on the continent, but possessive of an eerie beauty I can’t even describe. From the supposed safety of Interstate 10, we’ve driven along and marveled at the acres of windmills sprawled across the desert at Palm Springs and Needles as we headed east out of California. 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

Gary reaches for survival in Death Valley (above) while an old wagon hand helped make this picture of Kay possible (below)

Gary reaches for survival in Death Valley (above) while an old wagon hand helped make this picture of Kay possible (below)

 Kay in Needles

We’ve spent leisure time in San Diego, sightseeing through hills and harbors, taking in beaches and city streets and paying visits to the San Diego Zoo and the ever-intriguing animals at Sea World.

 

Kay at splashingly colorful Sea World in San Diego

Kay at splashingly colorful Sea World in San Diego

We’ve whizzed down all the freeways in Los Angeles, from the Santa Monica to the Golden State to the Santa Ana to the San Diego to the Ventura to the 10 to the 15 to the 210 to the 710 to the 105 to the 605.

 

We got to know the LA area from Orange County in the south to the San Fernando Valley (where we kept an apartment for some 6 weeks) in the north, and from Topanga Canyon on the ocean in the west to the San Bernardino Mountains in the east.  Ya gotta do Disneyland when you’re out there, especially when you’ve got a 15-year-old with you who’s having a birthday, cuz, well, it’s a Small World After All.  I experienced it when I was a teen; so I turned the tables, and Daddy took birthday daughter Jenny on the Peter Pan ride and Pirates of the Caribbean at that niftiest of Anaheim attractions.

Kay smiles and twinkles with the stars on the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard.

Kay smiles and twinkles with the stars on the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard.

 We’ve walked among the stars on the sidewalks in Hollywood, watched a live taping of a television series in a Tinseltown studio and negotiated with a Hollywood casting director about parts in front of the camera. We did our bit part through the turnstile at Universal Studios.  And we’ve surveyed the Hollywood Hills from a high rise in Burbank and have driven past Rodeo Drive in ritzy Beverly Hills.

  

CHII remember when Kay and I came across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Tex., and hit the hot and dusty border town of Ciudad Juarez. Much poorer than its neighbor to the north, Juarez appeared to have a run-down countenance. A mexican hustler on a bicycle met us at the Tex-Mex border, enthusiastically guiding us to the Market where curios and souvenirs awaited us. During midday siesta time, the traffic seemed light on the streets of Juarez, as I took time to savor some authentic Mexican food at a cafe on the corner. 

 Mexico

 

COAAlthough Kay and I didn’t spend much time in this Mexican state, we get to say that we’ve been there from the token walking trip we made across the bridge at Laredo into Nuevo Laredo and back.  On the Texas side of the bridge, with international banners dancing in the bordertown wind, is where customs officials made threats to confiscate our video camera due to their somehow not wanting to be filmed along with the big Mexican flag I was capturing on video.

COWe’ve experienced the Rocky Mountains in early autumn, as we passed through the central Colorado towns of Vail and Glenwood Springs, the early October snow having already fallen on the higher peaks, giving them a cold, imposing (but beautiful) Alps-like appearance.

 In the midst of summer, we found the Rockies of southern Colorado to be more user-friendly, as witnessed by the fact that we crossed the formidable Wolf Creek Pass way up on the Continental Divide (elevation 10,850 feet) without a hitch.

 

From the eastern foothills town of Alamosa across Wolf Creek Pass and over to the western foothills town of Durango, the scenery is pleasant enough. Durango is a nice little town with a cowboy/western flavor to end that scenic Rockies crossing.

 

But the so-called Million Dollar Highway that begins in Durango and winds its way through the best of the Rocky Mountain scenery through the old silver and gold mining towns of Silverton and Ouray is nothing short of remarkable. Our drive through the Million Dollar Highway on that gorgeous summer day will be forever etched in our memories. We stopped in Silverton (and back in time to the Old West) after stopping at the crest of the mountain and viewing the town in all its glory down below. Crowded by high mountains on all sides, Kay and I agreed when we saw it that the town of Ouray deserves its nickname as the “Switzerland of America”.

 

Gary points out the grandeur of the Rockies on the Million Dollar Highway in SW Colorado

Gary points out the grandeur of the Rockies on the Million Dollar Highway in SW Colorado

 Farther west, we stopped into the very scenic ski-resort town of Telluride, as nestled into the Rockies as can be. Kay and I will never forget navigating the most rugged terrain we’ve ever known up a rock-strewn, pothole-infested, unpaved road up a steep mountain grade for a walk back into the past upon reaching the top, as we came face to face with a genuine 19th century Ghost Town, the former mining town of Alta. As we stood there on the crest of the Rocky Mountains, on a quiet summer Sunday afternoon, a feeling of spookiness ensued as we surveyed all the run-down, dilapidated buildings all over town, with no one there but Kay and myself, yet all the while thinking about the thriving group of ambitious pioneers who once called the place home.

 In sharp contrast to the Rocky Mountains, the high plains of eastern Colorado that Kay and I traversed presented miles and miles of endless expanse of ground and sky. Once, while rolling toward the Nebraska line, we were momentarily transfixed by a funnel cloud in the distance disrupting what otherwise would have been complete and total solitude of the open range.

 

Down in Colorado’s sunbaked desert area, Four Corners is where Colorado meets three other states: Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Being there gave me the peculiar opportunity to greet my wife in person, with she in Arizona and me in Colorado!

Kay in Arizona and Gary in Colorado meet in the middle at Four Corners.

Kay in Arizona and Gary in Colorado meet in the middle at Four Corners.

4 Corners

 Kay and Gary at 4 Corners

 Of course, Kay and I have passed through metropolitan Denver a few times in our travels across Colorado, each time viewing the mile-high city from the “arm’s length” of the Interstate.

 

 CTConnecticut abounds with quaint little New England hamlets with Colonial style homes and village greens knitted together by pretty green, wooded countryside with rolling hills and meadows.

 

I’ll always remember Connecticut this way as Kay and I zigzagged our way all over the state in every direction. We stayed and worked in a couple of these little Yankee villages, Naugatuck in the southwest and Manchester in the east; and we did business in the prototypical New England village of Windsor in the north. Yes, we did springtime in Connecticut and liked it.  Of course, summer would bring those live jazz concerts right there on the village green.

 

I do recall picking my 12-year-old daughter up at Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks, on the Connecticut River, thus making Connecticut the first “far away” state the Texas girl would get to see.

 

Kay and I have rushed through the Connecticut suburbs of New York City that stretch from Greenwich up to Bridgeport. We’ve tooled all around the capital city of Hartford and saw the one-time home of Mark Twain there. We’ve done coastal Connecticut around New London on the southeastern shore and Hammonasett Point on the Connecticut side of the Long Island Sound. We’ve made presence in the hilly northwest section around Torrington, as well in the wooded eastern section around Willimantic and Norwich. And, our oft-made journey out of New England to points south and west has taken us countless times through a corridor that passes through Hartford, Waterbury and Danbury.

 

 

DEKay and I have a few – but not terribly extensive – experiences in this small state.

 

 

 

 In passing through northern Delaware, we’ve simply crossed over from the New Jersey Turnpike across the Delaware Bridge that spans the Delaware River, and continued on the Delaware Turnpike through the largest city of Wilmington and eventually into Maryland a short distance away.  However, we’ve done that on more than a handful of occasions.

 

In the southern end, Kay and I have crossed the blustery Delaware Bay on a ferry from Cape May, N.J., landing in the seaside town of Lewes. Our route through Delaware then takes us through Rehoboth Beach as well as several other resort towns lined up along the Atlantic Ocean until reaching the Ocean City area of Maryland.

 

 
Kay points out the fact that we’ve just made it to Delaware

Kay points out the fact that we’ve just made it to Delaware

 

 

We’ve actually made deliveries while on the job at the destinations of Smyrna and Dover, smack in the middle of Delaware.
 

 

DC

  

I can remember arriving in Washington, D.C., during Cherry Blossom time one April, the avenues and thoroughfares all blooming pretty in pink. And I definitely can’t forget lounging on the grass at The Mall one Fourth of July to witness spectacular fireworks explode over the Washington Monument.

 

Kay and I were present and voting at the downtown Hyatt Regency in Washington in July, 1996, when Harry Browne won the Libertarian nomination for president of the United States.

Gary makes a political statement at the old Libertarian Party headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Gary makes a political statement at the old Libertarian Party headquarters in Washington, D.C.

We’ve visited important political sites in the city such as the Libertarian Party headquarters in the Watergate office complex, the Cato Institute on Massachusetts Avenue and U.S. Term Limits on K Street.

 

Then we couldn’t help but see the graven shrines of our culture, the White House, U.S. Capitol and Pentagon, along with other State-controlled attractions such as the Smithsonian and Library of Congress. And finally, there was no way to avoid seeing the squalor of the D.C. slums, no doubt a result of the dislocation of resources necessary to maintain the aforementioned shrines.

  

FLKay and I managed to hide out for a whole winter in south Florida, working art festivals in a dozen seaside locales from Miami to Boca Raton to West Palm Beach to Port St. Lucie.

 

 

 

 

From the balcony of our Panama City Beach condo, Gary sips a cool one, with a view

From the balcony of our Panama City Beach condo, Gary sips a cool one, with a view

 We’ve also dropped in on warm sandy beaches in Miami Beach, Delray Beach, Ft. Lauderdale. Ft. Pierce and Jupiter on the Atlantic; and Ft. Myers, Pensacola, Naples and Bayport on the Gulf.

We’ve driven the Overseas Highway from Key Largo, down through the Florida Keys and open ocean waters, to find ourselves only 90 miles from Cuba

 

 

Kay poses in stalled traffic on the Overseas Highways way down in the Florida Keys

Kay poses in stalled traffic on the Overseas Highways way down in the Florida Keys

 

at funky Key West, the southernmost point in the continental U.S.  What a romantic moment that was, in the middle of February, lying together on that tropical beach on a moonlit night in Key West, the warm trade wind breezes blowing making Kay and I almost forget that we were still in the United States.

 

We’ve been to the soggy lowlands of Lake Okeechobee and explored the “River of Grass”, the wondrous Everglades, where we spotted herons and cranes and ‘gators in unbelievable numbers.

 

Kay on the lookout for alligators in the Florida Everglades.

Kay on the lookout for alligators in the Florida Everglades.

 Alligator

We’ve also spent a whole winter not working in Florida, but this one was on the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches” of Panama City in the Panhandle.  On a nice day, those turquoise waters sparkle against those snow-white sands.  On an angry day, those same gray waters can swell and lash out at an empty beach while gale forces hint at an impending hurricane, as was witnessed from our balcony view.  Of course, after calming down, the dark still waters of the gulf can get lit up by a full moon moving out of the clouds creates a memorable luster; add to that a warm gulf breeze and cozy thoughts are irrepressible.

 

We’ve searched the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine, and discovered the earliest known house ever built in the New World.

 

We’ve played tourist at the resort attraction of Silver Springs near Ocala where we glided along cypress swamps in glass bottom boats.  We’ve frolicked at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World near Orlando and we were in Jacksonville the day its NFL team, the Jaguars, earned a playoff berth in only its second year of existence.

Kay A smiling Kay glitters at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista (near Orlando), Fla. (above); Gary at Silver Springs in central Florida near Ocala (below)

Resorting to Florida: Kay A smiling Kay glitters at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista (near Orlando), Fla. (above); Gary at Silver Springs in central Florida near Ocala (below)

Gary at Silver Springs

Florida must be our treasure chest of fortuitous moments, as we also happened to be in Florida the dayit became the center of the whole country’s attention after the electoral college contest between Bush and Gore zeroed in on the Sunshine State.  In downtown Tampa, I held up a copy of the Tampa Tribune reporting front-page that “Florida Counts” (an obvious play on words) and later were coincidentally at the Statehouse in Tallahassee around the time that the state legislature assembled to try to decide the issue.

 

 

Florida must be our treasure chest of fortuitous moments, as we also happened to be in Florida the day it became the center of the whole country’s attention after the electoral college contest between Bush and Gore zeroed in on the Sunshine State.  In downtown Tampa, I held up a copy of the Tampa Tribune reporting front-page that “Florida Counts” (an obvious play on words) and later were coincidentally at the Statehouse in Tallahassee around the time that the state legislature assembled to try to decide the issue.

 

Kay in Tallahassee

Kay at Fla. Statehouse in Tallahassee, pre session

 

Of course, we had our own dog in that fight, Libertarian Harry Browne, and I’m recalling the time that we spotted a full-sized political ad billboard for him on I-95 near Daytona Beach.

 

 

Turn the Page:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/special-wish-you-were-here-postcards-from-all-50-states/page-3-tres/ 

 

 

 

 

 

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