Posts Tagged With: Highway 1

My Gift of Fear

Essential Reading

In 1997 I read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show  which got me thinking about trusting my gut when it comes to creeps who prey on women.  Well, who knew that 15 full years later all of that invaluable knowledge would come into play?

The crux of The Gift of Fear is learning to pay attention pre-incident indicators (PINS)— charming manipulation, too many details, forced teaming— also known as the signs that someone is up to no good.  de Becker  implores women  to NOT be nice to everyone, especially people who make you feel uncomfortable and NICENESS is exactly what gets a lot of women in trouble.

I booked a room at Gorda Springs Resort just south of Big Sur.  Nothing was available in Big Sur proper so I took the ONLY room available within the outside range of my budget.  The place had TERRIBLE reviews online but I gambled because I really wanted to spend a few days in the area.  I’m glad I did because Gorda Springs Resort is just fine.  It’s clean, it has a comfortable bed and a fireplace in the room.  It’s perfectly fine.  There’s no cell service though and if you’ve read this blog you know I’ve promised some special folks that I’ll check in every night.  Without any cell service or Internet it can make this difficult.

Turns out, Gorda Springs Resort isn’t as much of a resort as it is a room on top of a general store.  The view is great– straight out to the Pacific– and the price is right.  The door to the room locks.  Safety was sort of on my mind since my cell phone didn’t work.  Luckily, I  found a pay phone on the side of the general store and planned to make a call as soon as I put some stuff in my car.

I was on the driver’s side of my car when I heard someone someone trying to get my attention.  I noticed the

Not too far from Gorda Springs Resort

man in the shiney, black, BMW 7 Series parked in the next spot gesturing to me through his partially rolled down window.  I can’t tell you exactly why, but this bugged me.  When our eyes met he tried to wave me over and said, “I have a question for you.”  I just said OK and continued with my business.  I thought, if this guy wants to talk to me he can get out of his car.

I was standing at the back end of my car with the hatch open when this stranger dressed in khakis and a golf shirt approached.

“Hi ma’am, how are you today?”

Fine.  Again, I can’t tell you why but this guy bugged me.  It was like he was standing way too close to me or something.

“Can you get a signal around here?  I can’t get a signal around here and I really need to get in touch with some people, so I was wondering if…”

I can’t get a signal.  I can’t help you.

“I know, I know.  We’re in the same boat.  We both need a signal, right?”

There’s a pay phone.  I managed to avoid the guy’s intense stare and overwrought smile.

“Yeah, I know.  We can use that if we need something.” Nervously laughs.  “But, see, I’m trying to get in touch with some people who are wiring me some money…”

I slammed the hatch and looked him in the eye— I can’t help you.  

Seriously?  The “wiring money” line?  That line is an actual example in The Gift of Fear.  It’s like the guy wasn’t even trying to be a good crook.

“Oh, ok.  Well, I see you’re traveling.  Where are you from?  Oh, I see, Florida.  What part?”

From Oprah.com

I ignored him and made sure my car was locked.  It was such a mistake to stand behind my car with the door open so no one could see us– he could have clubbed me in a hot second.  I practically invited the guy to see everything inside my car.  And, he got a good look at my license plate.  Ugh, was Oprah’s work in vain?  Did Gavin de Becker teach me nothing?

I was so pissed.  This guy disrupted the good thing I had going at Gorda Springs Resort.  I’d just started to feel ok about staying there and then he and his nefarious ways interrupt the whole thing.  I went to the pay phone and called the hotel where I really wanted to stay to see if they had any cancellations.  I didn’t want to take any chances now that this guy had me unnerved and knew the contents of my car.  As I was being turned down by the other hotel I noticed him approaching another woman in the parking lot.  There was a single man standing not too far away but the creep didn’t approach HIM.

I went inside the general store to see if someone in there could tell him to scram.  The only person working was a woman who could have been 17 or 45.  We started talking and I realized she leaned more toward 17.  She told me he’d approached her too and asked her how old she was and if she had a boyfriend.  Since no one else was working the only person with any authority was the man who managed the place next door.  She went to get him.  It really chapped my ass that this guy in the parking lot thought he could target women for whatever he was up to.  But, it chapped mine even more that we had to get big Daddy Manager next door to take care of it.

As Daddy Manager was summoned I made my I-made-it-here-in-one-piece call from the pay phone.  While I was talking, I heard the creep call out to another unsuspecting woman.  She ignored him. He let out an odd cackle.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

A minute or two later, while I was still on the pay phone, he walked by and said, “Hey, Florida.  I’m sorry I upset you.”

Big Sur, California

As he interrupted my conversation I noticed the manager walking toward us.

The person on the other end of my conversation said, “What?  I think I lost you for a minute.  What did you say?”

Daddy Manager towered over the creep and was making the point that he should move on.  I exhaled.

Oh, I’m sorry, I’m here.  I was just calling to let you know I’m safe.  

Advertisements
Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Foul Tasting

Beautiful View

I was traveling up California’s beautiful coastline and wanted to have a nice dinner with a beautiful view.  I didn’t make a reservation because so far it’s been easy to slide in at the bar for dinner—it’s low maintenance, there are usually interesting people to chat with, and locals know the best things on the menu and have the inside scoop on the town.

I stopped at the first spot recommended— stunning.  Oceanside.  A gorgeous drive up.  Really pretty.  They had valet service which seemed a little over the top since the place is so small.  I just self parked and took the flights and flights of stairs up to the entrance.

I passed a couple about my parents’ age on the way up who were positively glowing.  They commented on the beautiful night, the amazing view, and their delicious meal.  They were carrying two paper bags which I assumed were full of pastries for breakfast.  He had on pants and a golf shirt and she had on capri pants with walking shoes.

After the long hike up, I made my way to the maitre d’s stand.  As I approached I watched her eyes start at my feet, work their way up my body, and back down again.

The outfit I was wearing could be described as bohemian chic— on a good day.  I was casual and had just come from a spa.   Skinny olive colored pants, black top, hooded sweater, open toe sandals, hair in a bun.  I suppose, to the untrained eye, my outfit could be interpreted as thrown together, haphazard, slightly wrinkled.  It’s fair to say that I’d not spent a ton of time primping for dinner.  But, the judgemental body scan I got from this maitre d woman, whose own ensemble was not far from thrown together, I did not deserve.

“Do you have room for one for dinner?” I asked, noticing my voice sounded less confident than I wished.

Maitre d glanced to someone to my left.   She paused.  I got the feeling she was summoning security.

“Let me show you the menu, first.”  She pulled the bi-fold paper out, splayed it in front of me, and pressed out the crease.  “The

There isn’t a bad view along CA Hwy 1.

dishes on the left are appetizers and they’re all $50.  On the right are our entrees and they’re $75.”

I tilted my head to the left, looked her in the eye, and waited to see what she would say next.  I think she was waiting for me to say something.  I was speechless.  I’ve never been shown a menu or  given the prices of the items before I was seated at my table.

Turns out, I’ve never known what it feels to be unwelcome.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to spend $125, or more, on dinner.  But, if I did I could.  Was I dressed to the nines?  No.  Did I look horrendously out of place?  No.

“Perhaps I can show you to our bar?”

“No, thank you.  I think I’ll try another place.”  Again, with the soft sounding voice.  Surprising mostly myself that I didn’t have much more to say to this woman.

“But, you’ve come all this way and you don’t even want to see it?”

“No, thank you.  I’ve seen enough.”

Here’s the thing…

1. People are treated like this all of the time.  It’s not at all fair, it’s an awful business model, and it’s life.  There was a time

Steve and Machelle

when I would have stayed to prove some mythical point.  But, had I done so I would’ve only been supporting a place that is undoubtedly unfair to people.  Plus, bitter tastes terrible.

2. If I’d stayed I wouldn’t have found Big Sur Bakery where I ordered the world’s best crab cake and roasted vegetable salad at a fraction of the cost.  Plus a perfect glass of Sauvignon Blanc AND a butterscotch ice cram pie.  You read that right— butterscotch ICE CREAM pie.

3. If I’d stayed I wouldn’t have met an academy award-winning actor, whom I admire,  and his lady friend.  He too was rocking a bohemian chic look.  So was she.  I wondered if they were also discouraged from the same restaurant.

4. If I’d stayed I never would have met Steve and Machelle who invited me to join them at their table.  Steve’s a cowboy and  businessman.  He asked if I could saddle a horse.  I said yes.  So, he invited me to his ranch in Kansas where he’ll introduce me to a bevy of cowboys.  To that I say, “Giddy up.”

Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

So Far….

From the North Rim of The Grand Canyon

Hello, one and all!  It’s been weeks!  Weeks since I’ve written.  Weeks since I’ve had a steady connection.  Weeks since I’ve organized my thoughts on what’s happened on the road.  I’m staying put for a few days in Napa, California and will once again be filling your inbox with posts from The Stretch 2012.  In the meantime, here are some things I’ve learned since I started this trip almost two months ago.

1. As soon as I start feeling really sad to leave a place, I know it’s time to go.  I’ve learned that part of that sadness is actually fear that the next stop won’t be as special.  But, every single stop is spectacular in its own way and you just never know what’s around the corner.

2. Grocery stores that sell ‘coons for cooking leave one full paw on the skinned animal so the buyer knows it’s indeed a ‘coon and not a cat.  Promise.

3. Dining alone is not so bad. I actually like it.  I don’t even bring a book with me anymore.  Most of the time someone will invite me to join them.  If I end up alone for the whole meal the bartender usually sends a round on the house.

4. Earthquakes scare the crap out of me.  People who live in California sleep through 3.8 earthquakes.  I contemplated packing my bags and leaving the state as soon as it happened.

5.  Hospitality is the true sport of kings.  I now fully understand what it means to make someone feel at home and welcome.

Las Cruces, New Mexico sunset.

6. Saying “yes” leads to way more interesting happenings than saying “no, thank you”.

Almost as good as new.

7. Broken bones heal.  It just takes a while.

8. Above about 3,000 feet one cocktail feels like two… or more.

9. Sex cult members would like for you to join them but if you don’t want to they don’t seem to mind and still want to be your friend.

Highway 1

View from Highway 1 vista.

10. Esalen in Big Sur, California houses the mac-daddy of all hot springs experiences.  I wish I could show you pictures but photography would likely be discouraged at this clothing optional enclave.  I now judge those who take the option.

11.  California Highway 1 is the coolest, spookiest, most harrowing drive I’ve ever taken and I’ll do it again and again.

12. Seeing two national parks in one day is seeing one national park too many.

13. Sacred Peace Pipe ceremonies are usually not open to the public and are not advertised on the community bulletin board.

14. Checking your car’s tire pressure is super easy and when all the tires are right it’s a huge relief.

Standard uniform.

15. I like wearing the same four outfits over and over.  I wish I could ditch half the stupid stuff I brought with me— like the sequined tank top that’s shedding shiny discs all over the bottom of my suitcase.

16. Everyone has a story and everyone has the propensity to be a teacher.

Open road. Totally alone.

17. Gas station attendants across America agree that beef jerky is the most popular snack sold.

18. Lying down on the double yellow line of a quiet freeway gave me a sense of freedom I’ve never felt before in my life.  I hadn’t seen another car for more than two hours so I stopped my car in the middle of the road, blasted a random CD I bought in Austin, and laid down on my back right on the double line.  Like a star fish.  Stared at the sky.  Laughed and cried at the same time.

19. At one certain pueblo, no one wants to discipline the War Chief’s unruly and aggressive dog.  He’ll goose you and then back you into a corner nipping at your ankles.  The dog, not the War Chief.

20. I’ve fallen head over heels for the car I’m driving.  When I spot it in the parking lot I all but skip toward it and give it a hug.  It holds the contents of my entire life, provides shelter, and takes me to every single new adventure.

My one true love.

Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.