Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A move to the opposite shore

I was at the Santa Rosa Penske Truck Rental at 7:00 a.m. As promised, Sergio stopped by to see if I needed help, but seeing I was being tended to, went on to his job. After searching throughout the Santa Rosa area for some sort of ramp that would allow me to load my motorcycle into the moving van, I had received permission from the Penske folks to use a small platform out front of their store. Apparently the concrete platform had been used to display cars.

An older employee assigned to assist me said they had a ramp out back that might work better, and took me to have a look. An ancient concrete ramp stood out in the truck lot. It looked like it might work. Then he suggested “why don’t we just put it on a lift gate?” A brilliant idea: use the lift gate of another truck to raise the motorcycle to where I could just roll it into my van. It turned out to be very simple.

Once loaded, I parked the bike on it’s sidestand, nose into the forward bulkhead, then used a couple tie-downs to secure it to bulkhead pad eyes. Next stop, "Anchor Storage", where it took about two hours to pile everything in the truck and close out of my account. Home to clean up, then out to “Flying Goat Coffee” to hold “office hours”. Over the next few hours, Jessica joined me during her break, then the Clevelands showed up bearing gifts of homemade chocolate chip and “M&M” cookies, dried apples and candied ginger. We moved into the sun outside. Rita and Stacey arrived, and they too had gifts. Rita brought a story she had written and Stacey gave me a “Starbuck’s” gift card. I laughed, and then told her how I looked forward to “Starbuck’s” when traveling cross-country, as much of the coffee "out there" in the U.S. is terrible. Giancarlo wished me well, and said he’d like to come out and visit, once he gets another motorcycle.

As I talked with Jessica, I suddenly concluded there’s no sense in waiting around for an early departure tomorrow morning. I was all packed up and I’d rather not deal with the morning commute traffic. At home, I loaded up the cleaning supplies, and gave the apartment a final vacuuming, then told the Moritas I’d be leaving tonight. They said they were not prepared to see me go. They inspected the apartment and were amazed how little there was for them to do. They were quite emotional. They said it looked perfect and that the next resident would be “blessed”. Left about 7:15 p.m., as Henry and Charlene waved good-bye, tears in Charlene’s eyes. Sonoma County roads seem terrible, the truck amplifying all the surface defects.

My mind focused on one final meal in California's Wine Country, I arrived at “Villa Corona” in Napa a few minutes too late. The “closed” signs were posted, and the last customers leaving. So I set my sights on the uniquely West Coast “In-N-Out Burger” in Auburn. Reached there at 9:50. Only 5 diners! This is almost unheard of for this popular restaurant chain. The standard meal: burger (a "Double-Double Animal"), fries and a chocolate milk shake.

Interstate 80 over Donner Summit is in horrible condition, the right lane deeply rutted from truck traffic. I haven’t seen such bad pavement since crossing the Andes between Santiago and Mendoza. Repairs are imminent, but it is shocking to see how far the rich state of California allowed conditions to deteriorate. It is clearly hazardous.

After refueling in Sparks, Nevada, I camped about 60 miles east, around 2:00 a.m. The night sky was incredible. It has been a while since I’ve seen such a starry sky. Hopefully, Vermont will be as clear and dark. Slept in the back of the truck – a bit cramped, but with my sleeping bag spread over the futon, and a full-size pillow, it was fairly comfortable.

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