Tag Archive | Americana

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Oregon to San Francisco

Day 2: Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Our day began at about 6:30 – Lelani is an early riser – curses!  She got up to take the dog for a walk, and I figured that since I was awake, I probably wasn’t going to get any more sleep and might as well get up too.  I grabbed my camera and followed Lelani and Shaka to the beach, where we did a bit of early morning exploring and relaxing.  It was misty and foggy, making for a pretty view down the beach, and a lot of condensation on the lens of my camera…

We headed back to camp and got things packed up and put into the car and were ready about 10 minutes before 9.  Off we went.  Lelani mentioned that she thought we would be pulling into Santa Rosa about 5 for happy hour with a friend of hers, and I checked the GPS and then let her know that if we made no stops at all (there were a couple planned), we would be rolling in about 6…  Oops.  Never mind – we would just play it by ear and see what the day brought!

The day brought a stop at the Devil’s Punchbowl a whirlpool rock formation on the coast where ocean water rushes in and swirls wildly in a rock formation that is shaped like a bowl.  The Heceta Head lighthouse is also there, so I was able to get photos of it as well.  What a cool quick stop – one day I would like to check it out more!

We stopped next at the West Coast Game Park Safari.  I wanted to like this place and was expecting it to be a drive through game farm where the animals have large open habitats.  Not so…  The animals were in cages and looked mostly sad to be there. Some of the animals they had, big cats and chimpanzees, are far too large and are not meant to be in cages like that. I did like the farm animal area, where the domestic animals can interact with visitors (and steal the ice cream cones full of pelleted food you can buy to feed them), but the wild animals were just heartbreaking to see.  I chalk this up to a tourist fail for me – I can’t in good conscience recommend a visit.  Laura, Brenna and I left disheartened…

We got back on the road and continued the journey south.  Our next stop was at Meyers Beach North.  We got out and took Shaka for a walk on the beach, and climbed on the rocks here.  It was so incredibly windy!  It was just a quick stop to stretch our legs and check out the view before continuing into California.

We drove on, stopping next at the Trees of Mystery.  If you don’t know, this is one of those iconic stops along the California Coast. I have been there before, to check out the giant 50 foot tall Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  However, I have yet to go in and check out what is supposed to be a fairly cool boardwalk among the Redwoods.  One day – as we were now aware of how terribly late we were actually going to be, we made this a quick stop to use the restrooms and get some cheesy photos with Paul and Babe.  Onward!

Paul Bunyan and Babe


Proof that I have a hard time being appropriate…


At this point the drive began to get hard.  We knew that we were going to miss the happy hour wine tasting in Santa Rosa, so we made the decision to just continue on to San Francisco, in order to not miss our first night’s lodgings.  Yet, the road gets long and winding on this stretch between the coast and wine country, and every moment we spent slowing down for all those twists and turns put us into San Francisco later and later.



Lelani and me – front seating

We stopped for dinner in a tiny town with two restaurant options; a bar that looked better left to Hell’s Angels types, and a Mexican restaurant.  The Mexican restaurant had the strangest, most apathetic server I had encountered in a while…  She honestly seemed completely unconcerned that she had customers in the restaurant.  And the food, while good, was not what I had ever experienced from a Mexican restaurant.  Lelani and I split an order of arroz con pollo, which is normally chicken and rice smothered in onions, peppers, cheese and sauce.  Here, it was simply chicken, rice and some finely chopped tomato – good, but not what I know as arroz con pollo.

It took forever to get dinner and then our check.  So long in fact that this is one of the few times that I have not left much of a tip.  Our server perked up as it came time to get paid, and all of a sudden started being really attentive, but it was already too late at that point.

We got back on the road, and more long, winding road stretched out ahead of us…  So much long, winding road…  It was long dark, and we were still driving, and I felt like we were going to drive forever…

We finally got into our AirBnB in San Francisco about 11:15 that night, exhausted.  We unpacked the car as quietly as we could, since we were in the heart of a residential neighborhood.  We got our things situated in our little apartment.  It had two queen beds, a bathroom, and a mini-fridge and microwave.  Our host had stocked it with sodas and some snacks for us too.  Once we had unpacked, we pretty much just brushed our teeth and climbed in bed, glad to not be driving anymore.  That was way too many hours in the car!

A Spot Of Tea With Your Fill Up?

On our trip to Yakima, it wasn’t all beer and searching for wine. We also had a chance to finally visit a piece of Americana that I have been wanting to see for years. My friend Sarah at The Practical Historian (sorry Sarah, no brochure) will appreciate this one! The Teapot Dome Service Station.

The Teapot Dome Service Station was built in 1922, in protest of the Teapot Dome Scandal that was being investigated in Congress at the time. I’m sure you have all heard of the Teapot Dome Scandal, but do you really know what it was all about?

In the early 20th century, the Navy converted its main power source from coal to oil fuel, and several oil fields were placed under Naval control to ensure that there would be sufficient supply for Naval operations. One such field was the Teapot Dome Oil Field in Wyoming. Others were in California.

All was going swimmingly until US Secretary of the Interior, Albert Bacon Fall, convinced President Harding to transfer control over the oil fields to the Department of the Interior from the Navy (ownership remained with the Navy). Once Fall was in control of the fields, he quickly leased the Teapot Dome Oil Field and the two in California to private oil companies at very low rates without putting them out for competitive bidding.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, it was determined that the leases were legal. Fall indicated that he did not put the leases out for competitive bidding in the interest of National Security – because the fields were owned by the Navy, a competitive bidding process would have garnered publicity that would have jeopardized national security. I’m not sure I buy that argument, but apparently Congress did.

The problem lay in the fact that Fall accepted money from the oil companies he leased the land to. A lot of money. He covered his tracks fairly well as the money changed hands, and the investigation fumbled along for a couple of years, with Fall covering more tracks as he went. Let’s just say some documents disappeared (this is probably where the execs from Enron learned their tricks…).

But ultimately, Albert Fall couldn’t hide the fact that his standard of living had abruptly increased. Let that be a lesson – people notice if you suddenly and inexplicably become a multi-millionaire and start living high on the hog… Fall ended up serving 1 year in prison after his convictions for conspiracy and accepting bribes, and the leases were ultimately invalidated.

Jack Ainsworth, in tiny, little Zillah, Washington followed the news on the scandal and decided to make a statement – in the form of a 15 foot tall teapot shaped service station with the spout and handle made from sheet metal. It was operated as a service station for many years, and eventually had to be moved for the construction of the freeway in 1978. By then, it had earned its place in the hearts of the residents of Zillah, and was moved 1.2 miles to its current location.

The Teapot Dome Service Station - Built 1922 - Zillah, Washington

The Teapot Dome Service Station – Built 1922 – Zillah, Washington

In 1985, it was listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Residents have been working on raising money to restore it and hope to move it to downtown Zillah and open it as a tourism office one day. The Teapot Dome Service Station is almost 100 years old now! Sounds like the “little teapot that could.”