... the journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

Now I' m sharing magnets from my mother's fridge.

Another Holland souvenir

* Discussion *

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I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Bill Bryson


Battersea Park
Road to Enlightenment


Nothing--driving day

Pictures from the Pride March in SF on Sunday are now up at Club Photo

That's it for today!



30 June 2001

I miss The Big Orange. I was thinking of that today as we drove from Davis to Santa Barbara. I had this great idea for a journal entry, which was making note of all the little oddities that we passed en route.

The problem is there are no oddities any more. The Big Orange used to be a chain of orange juice stands, shaped like...a big orange...where you could buy cold freshly squeezed orange juice. My father wasn't big on stopping at places like this...too much money, you know...but once in a great while we would stop and I can still taste how good it was. I can now squeeze my own orange juice, or order it at some juice bar, but nothing quite measures up to stopping at a Big Orange on a hot day and being handed a tall, frosty glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.

We started our trip in rush hour traffic over the Golden Gate bridge. I felt like a tourist, with my camera at the ready. I love San Francisco and I love clear days and today was one of the best. You couldn't ask for a prettier sight to greet the eye than coming out of the "rainbow tunnel" in Marin County and seeing the towers of the bridge shining in the sun--even if there is a line of cars in front of it.

We took the back roads through The City, out along Ocean Beach, with the choppy sea and crashing waves, and then along Skyline Drive until we finally hit Hwy 280, and from there to 101 at San Jose, where we hit the first bit of (brief) bad commute traffic.

Once we left San Jose, we passed into the country where I intended to take notes on the unique nature of the various towns we passed. I was encouraged to come upon a Furniture/Barber Shop with a large yard filled with statuary suited for decorating a large garden. I figured I had hit pay dirt with this journal idea.

But as the miles rolled by--some 300 or more of them--it became clear that even the back roads of California have been affected by what I have come to call the "USA Today-ing of America.

It is now possible in this great land of ours to get on a plane and fly 2000 miles, check into a Holiday Inn, go out for dinner at Denny's, shop in a mall at Barnes & Noble, or Macy*s, stop for coffee at Starbucks, pick up a burger at McDonald's or a taco at Taco Bell, go back to your hotel, read USA Today and then get up in the morning and fly home and nobody, especially not you, will ever know that you left home. Repeat this in any city you want. Fly all over the place and you'll find the same malls, the same stores, the same chain restaurants, and USA Today.

Kind of sad. The country has lost its uniqueness. Peoria looks like Seattle, which looks like Memphis, which looks like Chicago.

I suppose it's still possible to find some uniqueness if you get off the beaten track and look hard enough. On her many travels across the country, Jeri has seen quite a few of them, including places like The Corn Palace in Mitchell South Dakota (Hey, Jeri--did you see The Corn Palace has its own web cam?), or the Elvis is Alive Museum in Wright City, MO. But it takes work.

For the traveler wanting to drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara in the fastest time (given that we were starting at 4 p.m.), the only solution was to stick to the main highways with the homogenized landscape and hope for the occasional furniture/barber shop.

But if we'd seen a Big Orange, I would have made sure that we stopped.

Signing off now from the darkened room of my sister-in-law's condo, where it is 3 a.m. But who's compulsive???


One Year Ago:

The Piano

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 6/28/01 by Bev Sykes