Tag Archives: california

Auto Rant

uglycarWhat is it with Americans and their giant cars? What possible purpose is there in the huge boxes that are the current fad? I’m not merely talking about hideous cars such as the Honda Element, the Scion, or the really horrendous Nissan Cube, but the pseudo-jeeps, hummers, and all terrain vehicles like the SUV and the honking great huge pickup or the family van.

There are a few people that are exempt from my derision at owning these vehicles in these times of rising oil costs (environmental and out of pocket) and these exemptions are: contractors, military personnel (and only if your vehicle is standard military issue), farmers, and moms with giant broods. The rest of you are just wasting gas and wasting space on the road. There is no sane or rational use for a Hummer on a regular road (though I’m thankful to be able to use Arnie’s in my post-apocalyptic zombie novel over on Pan Historia) when there aren’t hordes of ravening zombies you need to drive over in a hurry.

Perhaps I’m particularly bugged about it at the moment because I have moved onto a tiny winding road into the hills where parking is a premium and even passing another car going the other way involves complicated maneuvers and often a handbrake start. Half the people on this road are hogging the space with vehicles so wide that they have to dangle half off a cliff to fit. By law you need a 12 foot clearance for emergency vehicles to get by, but with a gigantic extra-wide gas-guzzling GMC pickup there barely room for my Honda Accord to get by and I still get briar burn.

With the guys I used to assume it was to make up for some imagined (or real) inadequacy but these days it’s just as likely to be a woman driving a tank around, hogging the road, and paying at least twice at the pump just for the privilege of polluting the planet. I managed to get around San Francisco a couple years ago in the car poll lane with great ease because no one else was using it. These enormous cars are mainly empty. Few of the trucks are carrying load and the SUVs have just one passenger. The European Smart Car, which you would think was a no-brainer with its fuel economy and the ability to park in half a parking space or even nose to the curb, is a tough sell to Americans.

I’m not saying anything new here. I’m venting – but having moved to the Hippy and Eco-Friendly Capital of the Universe I’m having a hard time dealing with the fact that my aging hippy musician neighbor who talks to his trees and won’t allow anything but organic in his yard drives a massive SUV, and no, it’s not a hybrid. Does he really carry that many instruments around for when he busks?


Coast to Coast

The Big Trees at Muir Woods

I think the source of my latest move can be quickly accessed by viewing the illustrating image. It’s from my 2007 trip back to the Bay Area to visit with friends.

I think that trip just triggered the inevitable – the longing to go home.

I love Vermont, but at heart, whenever I think of home it’s a warm balmy breeze with a hint of salt, eucalyptus, acacia, and bay laurel. It’s the cathedral vault of towering redwoods, a thick carpet of soft red needles under my feet.

Vermont is truly lush and green about 4-5 months of the year, and that’s a wonderful thing, but the rest of the year it is an exercise in survival.

I don’t mind the golden brown hills of Northern California at all – in fact I think they are beautiful. It’s the cruelness of the human factor that mars the yellow beauty of the California landscape with its billboards, malls, and boring Bauhaus inspired architecture, or worse the factory farms that leach all our water and ruin the fertile soils of the central valley.

When I tell people where I’m going there are is a diversity of reactions from sneering (everyone thinks of Hollywood) to astonishment that I would want to go someplace where “EVERYONE” else is leaving.

Everyone is actually a relative term. For those of us that are native all those folks that arrived from all over to take our jobs, raise our taxes, push up our property values, spread malls and ugly condos all over our once lush hills, and generally make it impossible for this Californian to go home for twenty years are welcome to their exodus. I’m going home to the land where I was born, the land where my father was born, and his father before him. I’ll be happy if I can be a fisherman, a farmer, even to work a simple but meaningful job, or better yet work from home on my computer while take some time to grow some fruit and vegetables. I don’t need a condo, an SUV, a boat, or a fat mortgage.

Oh, but I will be doing a few wine tours this summer. I’ll tell you all about it.

View of the sea at Stinson