(Or as ol’ Arnie the Gov would say, Kahlifohnia)

BIRTHDAY TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:

(We took a pleasant 5-day drive from Santa Barbara to Oakland to Placerville to Lake Tahoe to the Bristlecone Pine

Forest to Santa Barbara. The occasion: old L.A. Times friend Al Perrin turned 90.)

–Sharon ate half of my chicken pot pie instead of just the crusty edges. It was really tasty, cooked by Z Pie cafe in

Placerville, CA. Owners got the idea, they said, from being in New Zealand “where they have pot pies like we have

hamburgers.”

–In Salinas, I asked a lovely little Japanese waitress for rye bread on my pastrami sandwich. She said very plainly, I

swear, “We no have lye bled.” Best example of the L-R confusion I’ve heard.

–Between Salinas and San Jose there is a hamlet named “Aromas.” What were the founding parents thinking? Or what were they

smelling that could cause this?

–Sharon put on her leather jacket for the first time since our Europe trip last spring and pulled out the “Kompakt” map –

the rail/bus/tram map of Frankfurt, Germany. Ye gods, no wonder we had a little trouble finding the delightful neighborhood

known as Die Sachsenhausen (the Saxons’ houses). Most confusing map I’ve seen. Too many lines, too many colors.

–The John Steinbeck museum in Salinas, CA, is well worth a stop. For some reason, I was surprised. I guess I never expected

ANYthing in Salinas, thinking it was just another Calif. farm town.

–Hard to believe that the bristlecone pines 10,000 ft. above the valley east of Mt. Whitney in California’s  Sierra Nevada

are 1,500 years old! Amazing. Yes, they look it. Beautiful in a strange way.

–Sixty bucks will get you a room in towns like Lone Pine, CA, and as an added attraction you get to go back in time about 50

years, judging from the general deterioration. But comfortable enough, and like almost every motel I’ve seen in recent years

it is owned by a bored Indian (India, not Amerind).