June 17th, 2001: Overheating and Traffic Jams

A great sleep at the campground. A little on the cool side, but I managed to sleep in a bit since I wasn't fearing any crazed farmers here. A little annoyed to discover pay showers (75 cents for 4 minutes) at the campground. Oh well, that's the price you pay for life on the road. I had heard that the water in Crater Lake is a brilliant blue in the daytime so I decided to backtrack a bit to the lake and see it in the morning. The brief delay was definitely worth it.

Up by the crater, I ran into a few cute critters in the morning, including a camera shy marmot and a very friendly chipmunk.

I then set off south once again and crossed into California. Managed to see a few pelicans swimming in a pond near the road and I stopped for breakfast at a cafe called "Malfunction Junction" with the hilarious slogan "Stop and eat here before we both starve"

Didn't get far into California, driving 120 km/hr on the freeways in 100 F temperatures, before the car began acting up. The gauge started creeping up towards the red around 2pm and I had to take a break at one of the rest areas and let it cool down. The day was so hot that my bag of M&Ms actually melted. They cracked their little shells and spilled out in the bag. I should complain to the company!

Had one more overheating episode for the day and used it to stop at a garage and let myself cool down as well as the car. (I'd been pouring water over my head and down my back all day long while I drove to keep cool.) I also used the time to make a few phone calls home and surprise everyone by saying I was calling from California. I was hoping to call from San Francisco, but I was a little behind schedule.

My original plan was to make it in to San Francisco by early afternoon. But with the few pitstops and the fact that I was driving slower to take it easier on the car, it now looked like I wouldn't get there until six or seven. This was a little annoying since I had lots of sights to see in the city (including a few spots where scenes from "Fearless" were filmed) and I had also made myself a promise of getting to the next campground by 8pm in order to have a little campfire and enjoy the evening. I was still trying to figure out how to time everything when I hit the traffic jam. Everyone returning from their weekend I suppose. Still 40 miles from SF and I was now making about 10 km/hr. At least the car's temperature was back to normal.

Sick of getting nowhere in the traffic and suffering from a combination of hunger (had only eaten melted M&Ms since my 7am breakfast) and heat exhaustion, I pulled off and ate at a nearby Denny's. By the time I got back onto the highway, the traffic had improved considerably. However, I was now just hoping to make it to San Francisco before dark. And so much for my campground promise. The bridge I crossed was a little too grey to be the Golden Gate Bridge. I did manage to catch a glimpse of the famous bridge before taking a wrong turn and getting lost in the city. I was able to drive up (and down) one of the crazy near-vertical streets of San Francisco. That was quite the experience. Just glad my brakes held out.

Then it got dark and I knew I had to beat a hasty retreat from the city or I'd be hopelessly lost for the rest of the night. Taking Highway 1 south, I could sense the Pacific Ocean on my right but it was too dark to see it. Seeing no campgrounds in the vicinity and not wanting to miss any more of the ocean view, I pulled into the town of Half Moon Bay, parked my car next to a little store on Main Street, climbed in the back, and went to sleep. What a messed up day!
on to Day Four...

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