Collin and I halfheartedly tossed around the idea of driving 15 hours each way from New Mexico to San Diego.
We only had the Subaru for a week, and with well over 200,000 miles on it, he was pretty concerned about driving it all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I mentioned taking the van to save on hotels, but then we were invited to have our lodging expenses covered.
Vaguely discussing renting a car, we decided to test our luck and the Subie's. If anything was wrong with the car, a 900 mile drive would surely let us know. Plus, the guy said he had filled the car with all new fluids, changed the spark plugs, and even replaced the head gasket a few years sooner.
I had been invited out to cover the Red Bull Switchboard event at Ocean Beach and do a write-up on the experience. Collin was tired of the road, maybe still recovering from our 7,000 mile summer road trip. I was determined to get to the event, as it seemed like too great an opportunity to pass up.
Only a couple days away from the weekend, Collin said he and the fam would join me on the last minute road trip to San Diego. We'd only be there for two days. I really hoped this would open up some doors in the outdoor-writing-realm, because if you don't chase your dreams, no one will.
I felt giddy about getting back on the road. I wasn't entirely confident in the Subaru, but something was telling me I needed to work this gig in Ocean Beach. Collin put in a request for a couple days of PTO, and I spent Thursday morning packing up all the baby & dog stuff.
We blazed through Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The hanger was setting in as we pushed through to a near Chik-fil-A (we hadn't eaten it in over a year living in the backwoods and all). And it never tasted so good. A huge plus of living in the mountains is the zero-access to fast food.
The scenery alongside the road was incredible. We had come from big pine trees, driven through the canyon by the Rio Grande River, and now we were face to face with the desert and all its astonishing landforms (and hundreds of cacti).
Collin was right about breaking the trip up into two sections, so we got a nice sleep and a continental breakfast. We hadn't eaten a continental breakfast since Van Life adventures back around the outskirts of Seattle, and man, do we love continental breakfasts. I always feel like such a fatty when it comes to free breakfasts, because I can't pick just one thing. Like, yeah, I'll take some fruit loops with a mix of sausage, are those eggs?, and toast- why not, a bagel, oh- and a plate of freshly battered waffles with extra syrup.
We were 7 hours from San Diego, and the roadside scenery was entertaining the whole way there. Until we had a bit of a scare.
We pulled over at a gas station to "top her off." Collin went inside and realized it was going to be near $5.00 a gallon and said a big fat NOPE. I silently agreed, heck naw. We continued down the road, as our gas log blew off the top of the Subie, classy-like. I ran down the middle of the road and scooped it up along with the pen. Luck.
Collin drove the family stationwagon around some monster canyon-wall curves, as the road kept getting steeper by the minute. The engine was getting hot, about halfway between toasty and burnt toast on the temp gauge. I turned the heat on full blast to cool her down, and we kept on truckin'.
"Shi*t, we are going to run out of gas," he said as we neared the top of the pass, "Look up gas stations, now." The nearest one was 20 miles away. Traffic was backing up in front of us, go figure, as we crossed over the border patrol checkpoint. He looked from the gas gauge, to me, back to the gas gauge, and idled the car through the checkpoint. "Do you have any fresh fruit?" asked the patrol officer. I said no, and we drove on.
We were coasting downhill at this point, thank God. Made it all the way up the pass, and the gas needle was floating on empty. Praise Jeebus, Hellelujah, a sign with a gas pump made its way into view, and we took a hard right.
Three miles into the drive, no sign of the gas station. We took a left and, yay, another hill pointing down. We coasted to the bottom of the hill, and there off the isle of black asphalt was the glorious two-pump waterhole.
So we had more than a full tank now, and the milkshake made everything better. We were almost to San Diego.
We made it to OB just in time for sunset, and it was a beautiful one, mate. After trotting along the beach with college bonfires on each side of us, I remembered I had been here before on a road trip years before. Funny how life works out sometimes. Olin bopped around observing the waves come to and fro. Collin said with a big, cheesy, smile, "Hey, I am going to put on my snowboard gear and walk out into the ocean." I said "okay" and took a few snapshots before returning to the Subie to check out our hotel.
Read Part II here to see what shenanigans we got ourselves into next.
Dogs & Diapers