One thing that really surprised me is how close everything is. I'd driven it on Google Earth, but never in RL, and it's really all walkable, from the dog park to shopping... it's all right there. Cinnamon, BTW, made some new doggie friends, and I met some women there who are regulars.
I didn't get a lot of photos, the trip was pretty much a hit and run, with me going up, getting and filling out paperwork (I filled out the application at the dog park, then went to the bank to get the money orders) but I did have a few minutes to stop off at the visitor's center, which is at the train station, which is also where the Petaluma Art Center is located. Parking was a nightmare.
But I'm really telling the story from the middle out, and I suppose I should start with the trip there, which was an adventure in itself.
I started the trip late Monday morning, knowing I could, should I wish to, make it all the way into Petaluma before my normal bedtime, and wake up with plenty of time to spare before my appointment. But hotels are expensive in Petaluma, relative to other areas, and I figured I could save about $60 by spending the night in Stockton.
Now pulling in to the Howard Johnsons on Center Street, I was pretty encouraged. It's across from the park and the river, which had some pretty views:
Well, on closer inspection, not as pretty...
Well, on to finish my riverside walk with the dog, and I was stopped by a woman who was the very stereotype of a meth addict. I told her I didn't carry cash, and moved on quickly back to the apartment. At that point, I could see the homeless starting to gather.
Back in the hotel, I discovered two things: First, my deadbolt didn't work, and second, that someone had used the "clean" towel in my room at some point as toilet paper. I changed rooms. My next room had a lock that worked, but the linens were pretty crusty, there was water damage on the bathroom walls, the toilet backed up (but didn't flood) when the next unit flushed, and there was no microwave or coffee maker. At least I had internet. And my own soap, because I scrubbed myself A LOT before leaving. Stockton Howard Johnsons gets a zillion thumbs down from this reviewer.
So on to Petaluma, where I did my apartment stuff, and had a lovely time talking to women at the dog park, and went to the visitor's center, where I mentioned I was in the process of moving and wanted a hard copy of the seasonal event calendar (visitor's guide) and where I got to talk to two lovely ladies who were recruiting me HARD to volunteer for Butter and Egg Days Parade. I left uncommitted, and pointed out that I'd like to see it one year just as an observer, and that I'm sure they'd still need extra hands next year, when I'd be more inclined to be involved. I left with a ton of literature, and I can't help but notice that they snuck in a form for Butter and Egg Day volunteers.
As soon as all the apartment stuff was done and I had a move date (EEEK!) I hightailed it home, the intent being to drive straight through and be home between 9 and 10:00 pm. Considering I'd gotten up at 4 am on Tuesday, I knew that wouldn't likely come to pass, and I really hate driving at night. My "quick drive" plan was quashed as I approached San Francisco, that had suffered some sort of massive failure in the transit computers earlier in the day, resulting in all the city traffic lights being out. I assume that may have contributed to the MASSIVE traffic jams my GPS was trying to route me around, some areas had delays of an hour and a half. At one point my Google Maps lost the signal as I was on a ramp that branched off into three other ramps, and I took the wrong one, and was dumped under a bridge at a place that must have been Oakland's Skid Row: Block after block of shanties and tents, with one regal red pit bull chained outside one clean tent under a bridge, sitting motionless and staring straight ahead, looking for all the world like Anubis guarding the halls of the Pharaoh.
As whimsical as that impression was, I wanted nothing more than to get out of that neighborhood, and was relieved when my GPS got me back online.
After one diversion, I stopped at a 7-11 and gassed up, and looked at the routes Google was taking me, all the little winding side streets running parallel to the highway, then joining up to the 580 again before taking another exit and another side street. While it seemed to take forever to zig zag through all that and across the highway, I apparently saved close to 4 hours on the trip doing it that way. Yes, the traffic was THAT BAD.
I started wondering how far to drive, and tried to calculate how close to LA I'd have to get and still make it to my job at noon. Then I called and quit, explaining about the move and how far away I was.
There were no photos on the way home, I just wanted to get back as quickly as possible.
But I was tired.
And I started saying "just one more exit"
and then I stopped saying "one more exit" and got off at the exit just east of Coalinga, and to the Motel 6. I figured, at that point, what was one more night in a crusty hotel? But Motel 6 surprised me. It was clean, and it was comfortable, despite there being no microwave and no coffee maker. I had to pay for internet (paid for high speed, which, as it turned out, wasn't even high enough for me to play a game on FB) but that didn't bother me, and the price was right ($54 and change) So three and a half thumbs up (out of five) for Motel 6 Coalinga East.
When I went to bed, my GPS assured me I had less than a three and a half hour drive. When I woke up, it assured me my drive was nearly 5 hours, thanks to LA traffic.
All in all, a heck of an adventure. I got horrifically sick of eating nut and seed bars. I did grab a couple hot sandwiches, had a cold one I'd packed on Days 1 and 2, but the cooler didn't keep things as cold as I'd like, and by day 3 the meat was looking pretty sketchy, so I didn't chance it. I'm going to have to pack differently for the next trip. And I'll pony up for the room in Petaluma.