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Craig Reade

Road Trip!

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Hsi Lai Temple - Buddhist DisneylandSo recently my girlfriend and I had our tenth anniversary. It is still hard to believe it has been so long. We decided we wanted to do something special - for years we took weekend trips away around this time of year, but for the last few we had to skip it, or cancel them, owing to a variety of issues this isn't the best forum for.

So we have three free days, we've been together this long, and haven't been able to go on vacation for a few years. What to do?

Road trip. Road trip!

I mean, I suppose we could go somewhere, rent a hotel for a couple nights and rush around and do whatever is in the area. I figure, if we are going to rush around anyway, why not make an adventure of it! So we decided to look for all of the roadside attraction type things in California and see as many as we could.

Giant Monopoly BoardSo how do you plan a trip like this? We needed somewhere to go. For that, we needed to research We started with what we found to be the obvious - we went and got a copy of Weird California. I don't know if they push these books in other states, but I remember having to force it down people's throats when I was working part time at the bookstore. It's a great little book (especially since they have it in paperback now), but I could never really justify the price. That in hand, we had a great start, finding all of the odd little places around the state that might be worth seeing, but not really worth making a trip to see on it's own.

So Weird California gave us a lot of fun options, a ton of stuff we needed to map out. This is where technology comes in to make a trip like this a lot more fun to plan than it used to be. We didn't want to go the GPS route, deciding that took some of the fun out of it, but Google Maps was an outstanding resource. Not only could we store these locations on one map, but we could look at aerial view and street view images of the landmarks in advance, to see if they might be worth the trip.

The map we were making quickly filled up to the point where I think I might have found Google Maps' reasonable operating limit. It became obvious that we had to decide on a route - and select only attractions along that route to see. So created a new map, shuffled all the locations we would be visiting this trip onto that map, saving the rest for later.

Bulldozer Shaped OfficeAt this point, we have the makings of a plan. We are going to drive up the 101 Freeway, all the way up to San Jose, where we will head over to Modesto, and come back down the California 99 and back into Orange County. With a trip of this nature we figured we wouldn't be able to do much at night, so we would have plenty of time to find someplace to stay when we have run out of daylight hours. Cell phones would make the hotel search much easier. This is where technology makes a trip like this a little more fun - why not tweet photos of us at these attractions? Check in on Facebook, and post the rest of the photos at the end of each day? For a change, it also seemed like something worthwhile to blog about - hence this initial post.

So what are we going to see? Fantastic attractions like the Clams of Pismo Beach, Buddhist Disneyland, Aero Dogs in Tulare (a hot dog restaurant inside an old commercial airplane), and the James Dean Memorial - the place where he died. We wanted to go to The Last Place James Dean Stopped For Gas, but that looks like it is going to be a little too far away. And who could forget the Office Shaped like a Bulldozer, or the San Jose Muffler Man?

So we head out October 7th. Should be a fun weekend.

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