On day two of our trip, we spent the morning and early afternoon creeping through the forest, stopping for pictures of trees so huge we couldn’t even see the tops.I’d never been in an actual forest before – with nothing to keep nature from eating me.It was so quiet, though – and so clean-looking, as if the forest hired a maid to come in and help tidy up. It was nice to see that there was no litter marring the scenery, except for one pair of shit-stained underwear crumpled on the side of the road (not ours).
We made several stops at roadside attractions, including a place called “Trees of Mystery” where they offered a tour of something that involved chainsaw sculptures that I didn’t care enough about to pay $12.00 to see. We stopped for two reasons, and two reasons only. Bathrooms and Paul Bunyan. We’ve realized that this trip is very much about how to find a decent bathroom after hours on the road. There have been some surprises – stinky, dirty ones in places that ought have been nicer and clean, pleasant ones in places that ought to have been more likely to give you herpes from direct contact with any surface. Before Janie made her way to check out the the bathroom, we stopped for a photo opportunity with a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. Being immature and childish, I immediately commented on Babe’s giant blue balls and suggested Janie get under him and pose near the dangling sac. She refused and so I took one of her in a relatively normal, touristy pose. It’s a photo she would not be ashamed to show to friend, relatives or coworkers.
I, on the other hand, elected to pose with the balls and post it on the Internets for all to see.
After taking my inappropriate photographs in the midst of a family friendly attraction, we were greeted by a voice of unknown origin. He was the voice of Paul Bunyan, but we didn’t know where the guy was hiding and didn’t expect that someone was out there with us, listening and watching as I fondled Babe’s balls. I felt immediately embarrassed as Paul greeted us, asking how we were and responding to our answers while waving his mechanical hand as we entered the gift shop.
We made our way back on the road after buying some postcards for our co-workers and family. Not long after, we stopped again at another roadside attraction: The Drive Thru Tree. Apparently there are a few of these…and this one cost us $4.00. But how many times in one’s life do you get to drive through a tree and live?
We finished up our trip through the Avenue of the Giants and found ourselves on Highway 101, speeding towards San Jose. Several hours later we wound up in Oakland and wove through a maze of highways and off ramps. People were cutting in and out of their lanes, motorcycles whizzed through cars and trucks at dangerous speeds in what was a whirlwind of bad driving. Not once, though, did we hear a single horn honking. It made me nostalgic for home, and for a guy I encountered after a trip to the Ikea in Kent last month. I stopped as a light turned red and he flew off the handle. I heard him through his and my closed windows screaming “NO! NO! GO! DON’T STOP! GOD DAMN IT, GO!” Hi hair stuck out in little tufts at the side where he likely was pulling it out in a fury. They don’t do this in the Bay Area, apparently, and that’s sad. The freeway is the perfect outlet for misplaced rage. I plan to introduce this concept to California throughout the rest of our trip.
After dining at a Mexican restaurant with some very drunk guy singing Karaoke in Spanish, we arrived at Janie’s aunt’s home. That night I met Janie’s baby cousin, a sweet, smiling, cute little boy that tasted like chicken. Janie slept on the floor and I slept on an air mattress. You can probably guess who slept well that night. We woke up early to get on the road for our day trip to San Francisco. A light in the dash indicated a problem and we had to call the rental company because they left us without a manual and any sense of what to do in an emergency of this nature. They suggested it had something to do with tire pressure. We found a piece of metal in the rear tire and the pressure was low, but we were able to fill it enough to make it through the day and have it repaired the next morning before departing for our next destination.
Our first stop in San Francisco was Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Tea Garden. It was beautiful and calm, a perfect destination. After that we crossed the street to the Botanical Garden where Janie tested the bathroom and I took some more pictures. We saw some turtles in the sun and I believe them to be fake. Janie insists they are real, but I know the score. You can’t fool me again. Those turtles are fake and THERE ARE NO GIRAFFES IN YELLOWSTONE PARK. Even on special occasions.
We decided to drive up to North Beach and Chinatown, first making our way through the Castro District because I had never been and, well, Janie said it was the rule. If you are gay, you go to the Castro. Just like if you are in Golden Gate Park, you smoke pot with your best friend and not tell your partner until three years later. That’s just how it is. So we drove through, got some stamps for our postcards, bought some bananas and juice and didn’t bother to take any pictures because Janie was in the passenger seat and she just can’t do that, it requires too much of her and she’s quite delicate. We didn’t find North Beach or Chinatown exciting enough to even get out of the car and, very quickly, realized that we hate San Francisco. It’s busy, congested, dirty, large and a doody head. It just isn’t the place for us. We found ourselves at Fisherman’s Wharf, filled with tourists, t-shirt vendors and birds eating discarded pieces of sourdough bread bowls. I saw a seagull gulp down an entire loaf without even chewing. My mother would have been horrified. We left the city just before rush hour and made our way back to San Jose, unsatisfied.