Saturday, May 3, 2014

Heading to Hollywood

Thursday morning, we woke up, had our coffee and saw a client in the motel room before taking off for the Mini dealer. 

Mini of Marin fell in love with River and lavished him with attention, treats, water, scratches and photos. They put a picture of him up on their facebook page. It was a really nice one. Here it is:



While they pampered and checked up on Thumper, River and I explored Corte Madera. We spent some time at wildlife preserve before taking a nice, long walk over the highway. We chilled on the grass just outside the mall before going in and wandering around. We found a nice restaurant with dog-friendly outdoor seating, so we stopped and ate. I took some of the leftover food in a box to have with my dinner that night.

River was amazing, and the waitress commented, “He’s so calm.” It always surprises me to hear people say that.

Mini was prompt and uber-friendly and Thumper passed all the diagnostic checks with flying colors (Green, to be exact). So there was no charge for my maintenance visit. They also washed him, which was desperately needed after driving through the dusty roads and through the bug-rich fields of Northern California.

With Thumper rarin’ to go, we were ready to begin motoring again. We had no reservations anywhere tonight, so the plan was to drive until it was time to stop and look for a place. We made it as far as San Luis Obispo before checking into the local Motel 6.

I was happy to get a room (especially because she told the person in front of me in line that they were mysteriously selling out this weekend). I wasn’t happy about the location of the room. I have a lot of luggage, including River’s cage, and being far away from the front door, and on the second floor, makes the load in and load out quite a monumental task that we have to do in stages.

When we woke up the next morning, I learned a valuable lesson about the order of things:
1- Bathe River

2- Walk River

3- Shower



But this morning I did it the wrong way:

1- Bathe River

2- Shower

3- Clean up pee

4- Walk River
5- Shower again



We finally got organized and I put on my sunscreen for a hot drive down the coast of California.

A friend had asked, while I was in San Luis Obispo, how it felt to be so close to the place I was born. But I told him I didn’t feel it yet. While SLO may be close to Santa Barbara in miles, but in the entire 27 years I lived there, I think I went to San Luis Obispo once. Or maybe twice. But it certainly wasn’t memorable. 

When we finally did drive through Santa Barbara and Ventura, that’s when I became flooded with feelings and memories.

I got hungry and had nothing in the cooler, so I knew I would have to stop. I set my radar to spot drive-thrus and was thinking of Whataburger or In-n-Out or something. But as I was driving through Oxnard the word “tacos” caught my eye. And since Oxnard is about as similar to Mexico as you can get on this side of the border, I quickly pulled off.

SO GLAD I DID!  This little taco place was amazing. I got three different tacos and each one was fantastic. The sign describes them as “picoso y caliente” and if that means “small and hot” then it was exactly right. Tacos Don Chente is an authentic taste of Mexican food. If you’re ever in Oxnard and want a good taco, I highly recommend it.

People tend to be incredulous when I order food without ordering a drink. And I guess it was especially hard to fathom for the woman who helped me here (probably due to the spiciness level). So, even though she asked me twice if I was getting a drink, and I said no, she still gave me a free pink lemonade and River a glass of ice water. River enjoyed his water, but I threw the pink lemonade away.

We were on the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway from there until Santa Monica Blvd. The beaches were crowded and beautiful. Santa Monica Blvd also brought back memories of the many weekends I spent partying here as a youth. 

When we got to the Motel 6 in Hollywood, they almost didn’t let me check in because I didn’t have a credit card. I explained how I’ve been to Motel 6s all across the country and never needed to show a card. I have an account online and made the reservation with a card, but I carry and use cash. He was adamant about it and explained how many people have parties and do damage to the rooms. I assured him that I wasn’t going to smoke or have parties. I told him I was a fitness guy and I go to bed before midnight and get up at 6am. Finally, he agreed to let me check in. 

Then he charged me $12 to park. I didn’t expect that, so I didn’t have enough cash on me. He hit some buttons and gave me some sort of discount that got me closer, but he still had to let me slide for a dollar and change.

Then he told me I wasn’t allowed to have guests. And I had some clients scheduled to come see me, so I balked at that, too. I said, “What kind of motel is this?!” And he says, “Welcome to Hollywood.” I said, “Wow, I didn’t know what I was getting into here.” He laughed. I told him I had some friends that might come to see me and asked what he suggested I do. 

He explained that I’m not to smoke or have parties, or I will be immediately evicted without a refund (and I had just handed him all the cash I had). He also suggested I go out to meet my guests and walk in together. No one can keep track of who is registered and who is not so if they don’t go to the desk and ask for me, they’ll be fine. 

And then there was the walk down the hall. Our room was way in the back, and there were a half dozen rooms with dogs in them, who let their presence be known every time we went by. And as I mentioned before, with all the luggage, we had to make several trips. 

It feels like I’m sleeping in a frat house / dog kennel. So much for keeping River from interacting with other dogs. Other owners don’t tend to wait for the answer when they ask, “Is it OK for our dogs to say Hi?” One of the dogs was barking so much at River that the owner couldn’t hear my answer, “No. He’s recovering from surgery and isn’t supposed to play with other dogs for a while still.”  The dog approached and they sniffed each other and then River when into play mode and pinned the other dog down. I was trying to stay calm, but I was so miffed by her irresponsible behavior.

Yesterday, in San Luis Obispo, a woman had tethered her dog to the bottom of the stairs that River and I had to use for our many trips from the room to the car. She asked, “Is he nice?” Which is an awkward position to put me in. I learned that I have to quiet that little judgmental voice that makes it hard for me to say to people, “He’s not good with other dogs.” When I explained our situation, her response was “Well they’re not playing, just saying Hi.” As if on cue, the moment she said that, the sniffing escalated into a growling and wrestling bout.

Fortunately, no harm was done. I think I was the one who was the most upset by these interactions.

Once we got settled into the room, I took River out to explore Hollywood. We only made it one block along Hollywood Blvd before he was completely freaked out. A couple of kids on skateboards set him off. The sound of the board smacking down onto the sidewalk after their jumps was too much for him. Immediately after that, a guy who just got a parking ticket was screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. It seemed that River was not going to recover from this double whammy and was cowering and hiding behind my legs, so I turned around and we made a beeline for the motel room.

The next morning, we took another walk out there. I guess Saturday morning isn’t quite as nuts as Friday night, so we did much better.

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