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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Thursday, August 14, 2008 16:25:36

New Mexico 2008: 1 - Victoria BC to Barstow California

Total mileage 1,459 (2,348 km)

Monday, August 4, 2008

We thought we had a full day in Victoria after returning from San Diego, but found the August 1 holiday changed to Monday August 4, so most places were closed. We stayed at Day's Inn, across from the Port Angeles ferry terminal, to ensure we caught the 6:10 AM sailing the next morning. I was able to purchase tickets and put the car in line at 3 PM.

The area was a madhouse, with an estimated 40,000 people attending concerts with big name entertainers in front of the legislative buildings a block away and other events. We took granddaughter Saisha out for lunch for her coming birthday, and in the evening had a family dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Arriving at the ferry terminal at 5 AM as instructed was a waste of time. The immigration people didn't show up until 5:30 and were highly disorganized, checking cars at random rather than in line. This must have driven employees loading the ferry nuts, as cars not cleared had to move out of the way of others that were. We were first in line but were not cleared until last, so other cars had to get around us. The sailing to Port Angeles was the smoothest I've ever experience - there was not a ripple on the ocean.

The drive down the Olympic Peninsula and then along hwy I-5 to Ashland, Oregon was hot in the afternoon but uneventful. The only car problem was a serious shudder in the front end between 62 and 70 mph, so I upped our normal cruising speed to 72-74 mph.

We stayed at Knight's Inn in Ashland, right beside the second Ashland exit from I-5. It was a great value at $86 taxes included. There were two queen beds, microwave, fridge, free wireless Internet and lots of other extras. Eats are available from an extensive menu in the pub or restaurant and the food was great.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We made good time until we got past Redding, California where the freeway was closed due to an accident. Traffic crawled along in temperatures in the high 90s F (33+ C), stopping only for 30 seconds or so before moving another car length or two. The Rolls does not like that, and soon the temperature gauge was at maximum. I'd been turning the engine off for a few seconds each time we stopped, but then the ignition switch refused to work any longer. A truck driver helped push the car to the shoulder where I bled off some steaming water and replaced it from our drinking water bottles.

Fortunately there is a starter solenoid on the frame under the engine, so we were able to make it to a service station near the exit where traffic had to take a 9 mile detour. Once we gassed up and the car cooled down, the rest of the trip to the Sonoma Valley via Clear Lake went smoothly. We were relieved to arrive at the hillside chateau of our friends, Tim & Jeanna Carlson, near Healdsburg where we would spend the next two nights in our own view suite. Cool drinks and a great dinner ended the day on a happy note. Tim & I have travelled together on many adventure trips, and the four of us have travelled several times as well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tim led me to a tire shop where they would balance the wheels and do an alignment on the Rolls, then drove me back to the house. The ladies were shopping in the beautiful town of Healdsburg, but returned to pick us up for a drive to a nearby historic town for lunch, then on to see some area wineries. There are some spectacular wine chateaus, and a lot of owner operated places making great wine but without the glitz. The countryside is beautiful to drive through.

When we picked up the car we took it for a test drive, but the vibration had lessened only slightly. Having now had the wheels balanced three times and the alignment done twice, I think the problem is a bit more serious!

In the evening the four of us were off to a restaurant in front of the central park of Healdsburg for a superb dinner.

Friday, August 8, 2008

An hour of driving took us to St. Helena in the Napa Valley to meet friends Peter & Bonnie Lind. In spite of having their grandchildren visiting from Belgium, they were kind enough to take a day off to show us the valley. Peter is the one who inspired me to drive the Rolls around the world last year.

Many of the Napa Valley wineries we saw are grander than in the Sonoma Valley, and more touristic. One winery owner built a full size Italian medieval castle; another engineered a maze of underground tunnels in a cliff with subway drilling equipment from England. Included are subterranean rooms for wine making, vaults to store & age wines, offices, tasting rooms and a vast auditorium for events.

In another winery, a film on seasons in the wine fields was shown in a theatre below two stories devoted to a museum of modern art. The only place we bought wines was in the tiny, unpretentious Prager Winery and Port Works. Here two laid back fellows made us feel at home as we sampled their excellent ports - we left with six bottles.

The sunny afternoon ended with Peter treating us to a superb bottle of champagne and a dozen raw oysters in a beautiful garden setting at another winery. After dinner with the Linds at an amazing seafood restaurant, we all returned to our suite in the Vineyard Country Inn to enjoy a glass of port and watch part of the opening of the Olympic Games.

Good hotels in both the Sonoma and Napa Valley are expensive. Tim told me the two downtown hotels in Healdsburg run about $400 in one and $800 per night in another. The Vineyard Country Inn in St. Helena was $364/night including taxes, but was good value. It is set in vineyards, includes breakfast, and the suite sat the four of us comfortably in front of the fireplace to watch TV. There were two sinks in vanities in the bathroom, a good sized bedroom, fridge and 8 wine and champagne glasses plus corkscrew to help sample local production.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

We were on the road by 8:30, driving south around San Francisco Bay to join I-5 through sun-scorched hills. Only irrigated areas were green and lush with crops. There are few towns and long distances between gas stops, which are usually grouped with motels and fast food restaurants in oasis like areas. A climb though hill country landed us in the Mojave Desert, where temperatures soared to well over 100 F (38 C). Even putting an elbow out the window was uncomfortable in the hot air, but the car performed well with no overheating on the long hills. We spent the night at the Best Western in Barstow, a quite good place for $103 including taxes.