On the Road Again — Tahoe to Encinitas

The sun sets on Venice Beach, California. View from 5th floor of Hotel Erwin overlooking the silouhette of palm trees along the beach as the sun sets behind whispy clouds
The sun sets on Venice Beach, California. View from my 5th floor room at Hotel Erwin overlooking the silhouette of palm trees along the beach as the sun sets behind varying bands of clouds

Well, it took a worldwide pandemic to slow my nomadic life down, and let me tell you how grateful I am that my life, in spite of this having been a very difficult two years, is in far better shape than so many in this world.

And because of that, I just sold my house at Lake Tahoe. Packed up what could fit in my Jeep, and headed out on the road.

It’s so good to be on the road again. The ability to head out on yet one more life adventure. To see new sights, meet different people. To experience some future unknown head on.

At this point in life, it’s not as easy as it used to be. Planning, preparing, packing, driving for hours on end day after day.

My heart, if you’re unaware, operates around 50% capacity, these days. Congestive heart failure is the phrase.  Years in the making, then years of misdiagnosis, and finally the past four years knowing the condition. And the roller coaster to get my meds, nutrition, sleep patterns, and expectations right.

Because of this, I can no longer just hop in a car and drive for 9 or more hours in a single day. Fact is, for most of my long distance adventures over the years, a single day’s driving used to range from six to nine hours on the road day to day.  I was never one to have to rush to the destination non-stop when driving.

Now, though?   Ugh. Wow.  Having to stop, in a safe place, after just a couple hours. So I can close my eyes. And instantly or near-instantly, fall asleep.

After around an hour asleep like that, I can then get back on the road. Refreshed. Reinvigorated. Ready to live the moments as they roll by.

I’m serious about the instant or near-instant sleep.  As I’ve worked with my cardiologist to improve my hearth endurance the past several months, there are just many days I need to crash out. For a half hour, an hour, a couple hours. Whether it’s late morning, afternoon, or evening, doesn’t matter.

When my body is ready to sleep in those cases, it’s ready.

Couple that with the overall mental exhaustion.

Having been pandemic-confined to a very small geo-area for two years, and having only gotten together with very few, very select people in my life during that time, infrequently, being on the road again is jarring.

And the traffic. Especially today, driving from Pismo Beach down south. I had planned to get to Encinitas today. Total drive distance around 265 or 270 miles.

Except after just an hour on the road, I had to get to a safe spot. I felt my body wanting to go into sleep mode. Thankfully when this happens, I have enough energy to make something happen to fit my need.  So I got off at the nearest “food/gas/etc.” exit. Found a fast food place. Parked. Locked my doors. Closed my eyes. Slept.

An hour later, I headed back out.

My original plan was to do the coast most of the way, including from Point Mugu in Ventura, through Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, and then hook back in to head the rest of the way south.

With that hour’s sleep, I went instead with GPS for fastest route.

Except that slammed me right onto the most painful driveway in the world, the 101 Southbound. The 101 is one of the main routes into the city.  And even at 2PM or so, there were intermittent pockets of dead stop traffic.

I bailed eventually. Because my mind was exhausted. I have lived in tiny small town U.S.A. for years and years. Kings Beach, and before that, Kailua on Oahu. And before that, Encinitas. etc. etc.

None of these places knows or gets L.A. freeway traffic crazy.

So it wore me out. Which led my mind going on instinct. Take the 405 to the 10 then jump off to get to Venice.

And here I am. Staying at the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach. My Jeep, filled to the brim with the stuff I chose to keep, is currently valet parked in the Erwin’s secure parking facility.

After checking in (so grateful they had rooms available as walk-in available!), I went for a bit of a walk on the Venice boardwalk promenade.

I love so much about Venice Beach.

Don’t get me wrong. Like EVERYWHERE I have ever visited or lived, it’s not perfect. They don’t do enough to help the homeless population here. And at the  same time, the yuppies and hipsters and geeks and nerds have been trying to gentrify this town for years.

Fortunately, there’s enough grit, enough hippie lifestyle and culture here in spite of the push to Silicon Beach this town.

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up whenever. I’m going to look out on the beach. Breathe. Express gratitude for this life. Then I’m going to walk downstairs and outside. Then walk 20′ to EggSlut — a breakfast/lunch place. And I’m going to order bacon/egg/cheese on a bun.  It’s not QUITE the bacon/egg/cheese on a roll like I used to eat all the time when I lived back east. Yet it’s good enough of a try.

I’ll likely get to Encinitas once I get on the road after that. It’s just around 100 miles from here.  Yet I no longer hold firm expectations set in stone about what I think might or might not happen day to day.

So we’ll see how it goes.

Either way, I’m back in SoCal. I’m back on the road again. Life is blessed for me.

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Alan Bleiweiss

Alan Bleiweiss is an Official Trusted Google Wiseguy, as confirmed by John Mueller at Google. Alan has proof of this, but it's a long story. So if you don't believe him, just ask him to show you his badge.

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