Posted April 13, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
On our way at last!
Since the moment we met Beauty in 2015, our thoughts turned to an overland journey to Alaska, a place we’ve never been. But, as new inductees to RV travel, we took a four-year pause for research and outfitting before daring the challenge.
“In due time” was our motto.
With many advisors and consultants on hand, in the end it is Jim’s determination, forecasting and exquisite attention to detail which keeps our Alaska vision and progress on course.
Preparations began in 2019 when the Airstream Factory, (The Mothership), installed new axles and a lift kit.
Then, while in position for a mid-winter 2020 departure to Alaska from San Diego, the pandemic forced a detour. Setting northward ambitions aside, we retreated to the east into the familiar comforts of the California and Arizona deserts, then up to see the majesties of Colorado and Utah.
In 2021, we set out for The Maritimes hoping the Canadian border would open for Summer tourism. It did not, but we discovered the exotic barrier islands in the Carolinas, and Virginia, before crossing north-east into Upper Michigan.
Last August, when the Canada-US border reopened, we returned to San Diego with the goal, “Denali or Bust!”
As we hug the Pacific coast in true 4-3-2 style we project a Canada entry in the late-spring thaw.
Every two weeks we will report the high points, mishaps and discoveries.
Thus far, all is well despite a beating Beauty suffered from a ghost tree in Oregon (more about that in a future report), but our Alaska hope remains steadfast. We signed up for adventure and the hail marks, bumps and bruises go proudly before us as we slowly ascend toward North America’s last frontier.
Our health is good. The cool climate fortifies our appetite for outdoor exercise. The salty coastal air mates with the tang of the winter forest floor and every whiff reminds us that we are not in the desert anymore.
Each day we waken to the glories of the rugged California and Oregon coastlines and gape in awe at the dramatic promontories and verdant wetlands teeming with wildlife and shorebirds. The wet conditions – coastal fog, low temperatures, wind, rain, hail, rain again, hail again and the occasional snow – give us an excuse to bundle up with a steaming cup of Mexican cocoa and burrow into a good book, or sit fireside with freshly drawn pints of frothy porter in the local public houses.
Our Journey Song
Before a long sojourn away from home, some indigenous American families sing the travelers on their way. The mysterious rhythms of these ceremonial songs heave with longing for the familiar, and with wailings for the sad specter of a permanent departure.
The custom is wise. If these last two years have taught us anything, the truth of our mortality is an ever-present cognition. There are no guarantees. Still, our senses hunger for signs of a safe journey ahead. And on that mid-January night before pulling out of San Diego, we felt the heavens had tossed us a blessing.
The next morning, snowcapped mountains flanked by palm trees escorted us all the way to The City of Angels.
We stopped in Riverside to lunch with dear friends, Margie and Uly Pabon from high school …
… before continuing the surreal journey through Los Angeles …
to Highway 1, The Pacific Coast Highway, (PCH) …
and, finally, to our home for seven days in…
where we settled into our perch on the hillside with an ospry’s eye view of Escondido Beach and Paradise Cove …
As if the public beaches are not enough …
we arrived with tickets for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa Museum.
The recently re-opened museums are L.A.’s best kept secret. If they charged $50 entrance it would still be the best thing in town, but it costs nothing other than a bit of planning and a small parking fee.
The Getty Center
The following morning we left Pico to enjoy the view …
and drove 24 miles on the 405 ….
to a secure lot …
and rode the Getty tram up to the museum grounds …
The entrance features a boy presenting a perfectly naked frog to a woman who is apparently so overcome by the spectacle that she loses her footing and tumbles down the stairs.
Score #1 for Art. We were all eyes.
Back in our house-poor days we would bring our own lunch and picnic on the lawn before perusing the galleries. Celebrating the end of a two-year museum fast, we made reservations for The Restaurant at the Getty Center.
then we toured the exterior …
For decades The Getty has served as our special place, our thinking place, where we come to unwind after a crisis or gird up for a challenge.
The management limits the crowd, so it’s always a relaxing atmosphere. We come for the views …
the galleries …
to see old friends …
and to view the gardens.
Something different always captures our attention.
Before the pandemic we would stay after closing for a concert, film or play, but the event calendar had not resumed so we settled for a bottle of wine on the patio.
In a small way, we carry the Getty with us. The used street banners make gorgeous weather-durable outdoor table covers, floor cloths and wall coverings, indoors or out. We’ve used the same banner for ten years now. The used street and exhibition banners are available at The Getty Store and can be ordered online.
The next day we drove into Santa Monica to have lunch at The Curious Palate …
where we met a friend from our distant past, Chuck Martinez. In the early 70’s Chuck was the owner of the magic shop on 30th Street in San Diego. His expertise in the art of prestidigitation served as a godsend for local magicians. In 1976, his mother, Mary, found our first house and kindly waived her fee giving us a head start in San Diego real estate. Today, Chuck is president of the illustrious and legendary Magic Castle.
The next day we returned to Santa Monica on business. The Bike Shop had a Dolphin eBike in stock to replace the bike I lost in Chula Vista.
The Journey Song continued …
when our forever-buddies, Sam and Jim Pascarella drove up from San Diego for a day at the Getty Villa …
The Getty Villa
We met at the Villa Cafe for a bite …
before diving into the galleries …
Sam is a recently retired middle-school art teacher …
so we tried to be good.
At least we stayed out of the water features.
Later, we met at Beauty in The Bu for a sunset view.
Douglas Jacobs, my writing teacher, joined us the following day. We exchanged salt and chocolate, and shared a pot of Jim’s pork chili verde.
On the seventh day we hiked Solstice Canyon, right off PCH. The trailhead is a short drive and an easy walk from the campground.
This trail – if you will excuse the expression – has Energy. Everything glows with a singular Presence …
Right away, Pico picked up on the excellent vibe …
We connected to this place where the stream lays low …
parrots rule the sky.
Voices seem to murmur from the old homestead.
The wind stirred a mournful howl from the fire hollowed oak …
the final note of our Journey Song …
setting us free to go over the mountains to see what we can see.
Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series
- Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
- Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
- Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
- Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
- Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
- Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
- Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
- Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
- Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
- Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
- Chapter 11 – Yukon
- Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
- Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
- Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
- Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
- Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
- Chapter 17 – Denali
- Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs – coming soon!
- Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines – coming soon!
- Chapter 20 – Haines Junction to the Lower 48 – coming soon!
- Chapter 21 – Lesson Learned – coming soon!
If you want to see our exact route, click here.
*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.