Day 5 & 6
(July 29 & 30,
Day 5 (Sunday)
S. San Francisco
Part of the reason we stop in SF (aside from the Cartoon Art Museum) is to
worship at St. Gregory's of Nyssa. Someone (well, Elizabeth, to be precise) told
us that they had services that were somewhat different than your typical
Whoo boy, it sure is different! It's a combination of Touchy-Feely and High
Church (meaning, we all hug each other while trying not to sneeze from the thick
clouds of incense).
We dance into the church at the beginning, and after communion we all dance
around the altar; not the foxtrot or the waltz, though, just Sufi dancing, which
is kind of like line dancing only circular.
Robert likes that after the service, instead of stale donuts and bad coffee,
they serve good coffee and a lovely selection of Ghiradelli chocolates. Laura
likes the music and the dancing.
After all that excitement, it suddenly occurs to us that we are (technically
speaking) on vacation. So we decide to vacate for the rest of the day. Naps,
comic books, and Clint Eastwood movies on the hotel teevee.
Day 6 (Monday)
8:47 am (1,162 miles)
S. San Francisco
Once again, we saddle up Astro and after opening a few windows to dilute the Bay
Rum smell, we hit the road in search of the World's Largest Can of Fruit
9:27 am (1,178 miles)
We're driving down El Camino Real, which Laura says used to be the main drag for
missionary monks back in the 1600s. Since then it's kind of gone downhill, as
now it is a candidate for the World's Largest Strip Mall. Just one McDonald's
and Blockbuster and Office Depot after another. We pass through a dozen towns,
but the only way we can tell is by looking at the map ("Oh, that's the
Mountain View McDonald's!").
There is also a severe shortage of espresso stands (you'd think it'd be easy to
find a drive-through espresso stand in California, which has drive-through
pretty much everything else). Finally we stop at a place called the "Happy
Donut." Unfortunately, because Robert hasn't had an espresso yet, he
doesn't notice until after he orders that the espresso comes from a (shudder)
machine. On the way out, he suggests the place should be called "Unhappy
World's Largest Can of Fruit Cocktail
10:24 am (1,195 miles)
Our research shows that the World's Largest Can of Fruit Cocktail is in
Sunnyvale somewhere, but (surprisingly enough), its exact location isn't
obvious. We stop at the library and ask at the Information Desk. The guy seems
surprised that we would be interested in "that thing over there," but
he gives us directions.
The World's Largest Can of Fruit Cocktail lives a quiet life as a water tower in
a high-tech office park. Many years ago, Libby (the people who made a lot of
money putting fruit cocktails in cans), built it to provide water to the cannery
that used to be there.
It's not at all "touristy." There's a simple plaque and a guy sitting
on a bench reading through some electronics specifications. We gaze in wonder,
shoot a few pictures, and take off.
World's Largest Artichoke
11:37 am (1,260 miles)
Our goal this time is the World's Largest Artichoke (and no, we don't make ANY
of this stuff up). We're a little concerned that if a 30-foot can of fruit
cocktail was difficult to find, it might prove challenging to find a 15-foot
When we get off Hwy 1 in Castroville, however, we look to the right and see the
"Giant Artichoke Restaurant." Our finely honed research instincts tell
us that this might be a clue.
Sure enough, right next to the Giant Artichoke Restaurant is...a Giant
Artichoke! This baby is green and a good 15 feet tall and a pretty fair replica
of an artichoke (unlike, say, that sleazeball "spitting
clam" in Long Beach, WA, which Robert is still steamed (haha) about).
There's also a fresh fruit & vegetable stand, so Laura loads up a case of
artichoke hearts to send to a needy friend in Florida (or in case we meet any
artichokes in need of a transplant).
1:08 pm (1,315 miles)
We stop for lunch along Big Sur at a pull-out overlooking some spectacular
scenery--which is another way of saying "narrow, twisting roads that are
either going steeply up or steeply down."
Down below (WAY down below) we see some seals sunning themselves on the rocks,
but they ignore our entreaties to do tricks.
World's Largest Clam
4:34 pm (1,424 miles)
Pismo Beach, CA
Once again, we're unsure about how to locate the World's Largest Clam, so we
head for the Chamber of Commerce. As we pull into a parking spot in front of the
Chamber, we see--The World's Largest Clam! (Our ability to find things seems to
be inversely proportional to their size.)
It is a good eight feet across and has two American flags painted on it. (Robert
starts singing "He's an American Clam" to the tune of "She's an
American Girl" until Laura points out that it's a long walk home.)
This clam is made of concrete, and if it weren't for the flags, actually looks
like a clam (unlike certain cheesy wooden
clams we won't mention).
5:06 pm (1,444 miles)
Santa Maria, CA
We realize that if we don't stop and do laundry tonight, we'll be driving around
S. California naked. Although this probably wouldn't attract any attention, we
don't want to stick to the seats (which also smell like Bay Rum).
We find a laundromat, where a large sign warns us that we shouldn't wash any
clothes that have crude oil on them. We carefully inspect our clothes to make
sure they are crude-oil-free, get a mess o' quarters from the change machine,
wash our duds, and give thanks that we have a washer & dryer at home.