Monday, September 19, 2016

20 Seconds of Courage ... The Story

You probably remember that from the movie, We Bought A Zoo.  By the way, it's 5:00 am and my poor little Verizon MiFi is doing it's best to keep up.  Anyway, that's what I was thinking when I left the Elks Park.  If I can just get up the courage to take that first on-ramp, I'd be home free.  You don't know how close I came to turning the wheel towards Sacramento!!

I did my best to research the road by first calling Dan Chance.  He's been driving these highways forever and knows every road.  We discussed the merits of 680 Walnut Creek-San Jose versus 101 straight into Richmond-Oakland-San Francisco.  Uh NO ... I'm NOT going THAT way!!

Out of San Jose, 680 turns into 280, then Hwy 17 to Santa Cruz.  That's where Dan put the fear in me when he casually mentioned Blood Alley.  WAIT!!!  What?   "Oh yeah ... there were more accidents there than anywhere!"  Oh great .. I'm pretty good at spilling blood!

I wrote down every section of highway and every turnoff, set up my GPS (who also thought I should go down Richmond-Oakland way and kept my phone with the map in my lap.  The big car race wasn't a problem ... all the traffic was going the other way.

The onramp turned out to be a 200 foot high bridge.  I wish I had taken pictures, but my fingers were frozen to the wheel.  Courage Nancy ... courage!!  The traffic wasn't bad at all and the highway was nice and smooth ... of course the lanes were only 8 feet wide.  When a big truck pulled up beside me I about had a heart attack, but at least that meant I could travel on this road.

Smooth sailing now, I'm across the bridge, if I can just find the ramp to get to Hwy 680.  Here's where I almost DID end up in Sacramento.  The 680 sign was about 12 inches square and so dirty it was hardly readable.  I slipped across two lanes and hit the brakes as my blood pressure peaked.  Maybe I should check on new glasses when I get home!!

Finally ... Hwy 680 that I'm pretty familiar with since traveling to Property Tax Meetings over the years.  I cruised right along, not the least concerned that it's already been two hours, the total time for the trip.  One more off ramp and I'm in the clear.  Blood Alley here I come!!

If you haven't been on Hwy 17 South, don't go unless you are in a car.  Good heavens ... Dan was right!  It's four lanes most of the way with barriers in between, but the lanes are SO narrow!  Most of the way the cars didn't want to pass me on the left.  It was so twisty turny that I was lucky to go 30 mph up the VERY steep hills, causing quite a backup of traffic.  Not as bad however as the wide load that came down the hill the other direction.  He took up the ENTIRE road!

You're almost there Nancy .... another 30 MINUTES of courage and you will have arrived at your destination, even though it's taken three hours!!  I'm pretty sure I aged about 5 years up to this point.  Another 4 got tacked on when I finally located the Smithwoods RV Park sign.  I started to make the left turn to discover the driveway drops off a 40 foot cliff at about a 45 degree angle!!!!!  GOOD GRIEF!!  That was worse than Blood Alley!!!  I literally pried my fingers from the steering wheel!!

After waiting for about 30 minutes (I got here too early) they parked me in this beautiful tree covered site.  Just to add icing to the cake, they tested my backing skills by having me come in the wrong direction for easy parking.  With a rather large audience, I took my time, barely missing a tree and slid right in.  It was probably all that adrenaline from the driveway!!
My view out the front window is pretty spectacular.  Tall as the sky redwood trees loom overhead and provide lots of nice shade.  Obviously no satellite TV, but they have cable, 60-some channels he said. So far I've only found 5 and they are so fuzzy I'll probably be blind shortly.  I'm hoping Mr. Chance can fix that when he arrives.  
So the story turned out good in the end.  Just a little courage will take you a long way ... to Santa Cruz where you can hear train whistles all day long in the oldest RV Park still in existence, or so they say.  

I have no phone or cell service in my rig, and it appears my MiFi only works in the very early morning hours.  No problem, I'm up anyway!!  It should be a good week with great friends!!  I can't wait to ride the trains!!


  1. Like I said, I would never drive that in my motorhome, and I am way shorter than you are.

    With your cable, are you sure your TV Antenna Booster is not on? That always affects my cable if I forgot to turn it off.

    Enjoy those Redwoods...they are "almost" worth driving that way for (except I would have gone the back route myself...)

    1. You were right Dave ... I pushed the button and the TV came in clear as a bell. THANK YOU!!!