Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paso Robles to Prunedale

Prunedale, California (via Wikipedia)

Today is a day of wrong turns, but we don't know that yet. It's 4:30 a.m. and I'm working on an article about Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. It begins well enough:

I stare at Dexter Fowler in search of inspiration. Not at the actual man, of course–that would be awkward and inappropriate–but at his statistical record.

Doing my crazy thing.

At 6, I wake Sandra. After a quick hotel breakfast, we check out and return to the highway.

Sandra has brought her iPod on this trip. We listen to ambient music and what is probably called alternative rock, then to podcasts she thinks I might enjoy.

Yesterday we tried a beer podcast that pretended to be informative but was really just three kids getting drunk and swearing. They were awesome in their own minds.

This morning is better: NPR's All Songs Considered and an episode of Chris Hardwick's Nerdist featuring guest Brent Spiner, who played Lt. Cmdr. Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hardwick's approach to interviewing is unique in that he seems to care about the questions he asks and the answers he receives.

It works. People respond. They have actual conversations.

Months later we will see him chat with actor John Barrowman live in San Diego with similar results. Hardwick's command of the stage and audience will not fail to impress.

* * *

The plan is to stop at Salinas, as we did on our last jaunt this way. Cannery Row author John Steinbeck was born there. So was former Padres outfielder Xavier Nady. We used to watch him at Lake Elsinore; he and the rest of that 2001 Storm team were a force.

Once, after a Padres game at Qualcomm Stadium, I took the trolley back to my car at a park and ride. I stopped somewhere to eat, then got back on and saw a couple of kids goofing around on the trolley. One of them spotted my Storm T-shirt, pointed, and yelled, “Yeah, Storm!”

I smiled and gave the thumbs up, then resumed staring out the window. The kid looked familiar but I couldn't place his face. Later, while disembarking, I realized it was Nady and his pal Sean Burroughs on their way home from the game.

We miss Salinas and continue to Prunedale, which we've passed dozens of times and never noticed until now, when we inadvertently take the off-ramp into town (the mind wanders; I'm probably still wondering how we missed Salinas).

That's roads for you. They pass by stuff that you never notice.

Prunedale boasted 17,560 residents as of 2010. We see four of them at the Burger King, where we stop to use the restroom and buy a soda.

Toward the end of our 24-minute stay in Prunedale, as I ponder how to get back on the highway, Sandra flips through the free hotel newspaper. She discovers that today is San Francisco Pride Parade and that its route coincides with ours.

We've been to the San Diego Pride Parade a few times and had a blast, but our schedule is tight. Besides, we saw a parade yesterday, so we consider alternatives.

Although the East Bay route might make more sense, we're hoping to have lunch at a recommended Burmese restaurant in San Francisco. It's far enough west of the parade to be feasible, and we devise a plan that will swing us further out west to CA-1.

This assumes that we make no further wrong turns. But it's only 9:15 when we leave Prunedale. We've got all day to make mistakes.

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  1. "Yesterday we tried a beer podcast that pretended to be informative but was really just three kids getting drunk and swearing. They were awesome in their own minds."

    Sounds like Padres and Pints

  2. Exactly, but without the baseball or the funny.