By Way of Bishop

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3 Days before the Trip:

San Diego was in the midst of raging fires. People were evacuating en masse.

2 Days before the Trip:

Boyfriend told me we were leaving for California in two days. He had job interviews in Bishop, Santa Maria, and San Diego. I went along to see how I’d like living there.

1 Day before the Trip:

We made one-way reservations on since we didn’t know where we’d be able to fly out of or how long we were staying.

Day 1 of the Trip:

Departing on Southwest from Tampa, Florida is reliable and timely, but we paid the highest fare due to short notice ($700 per person, round trip). Check in was a do-it-yourself touch screen counter. At the gate, there were three aisles for boarding, depending on when you reserved as to when you boarded. The cost did not factor your place in line.

Landing in Reno, Nevada and in need of a car rental: the first quote was $750 for a one-way to San Diego. But after going to five counters, the price gauging came to a halt at Avis (one way to San Diego $279 for three days)!

We had planned on heading to Bishop that night, but were hungry and stopped in Circus Circus to grab a bite. The food was moderately priced in the café. I had the French Dip for $7 and it was great. Boyfriend was content to play keno at the table but not too pleased with his food. Seated and comfy, we decided instead to depart first thing in the morning. The room at Circus Circus came to $69 with tax and was clean, roomy, and very, very nice … a relief.

Day 2 of the Trip:

Leaving Reno at 6:30 a.m., I headed out with only a coffee in hand. The scenic Sierras kept me totally engrossed during the three hour drive to Bishop. Boyfriend didn’t want to stop to eat, so I grabbed an Egg McMuffin (approx $4 in total).

Before arriving in Bishop, we stopped for lunch in Mammoth. This is one town where you can leave your Amex card at home. The cute little Thai restaurant didn’t accept it. And I don’t think any other merchant in town did either, for that matter.

In Bishop I thought I’d get a manicure while Boyfriend interviewed. The salon did not accept Amex so I went to an internet café and paid $2 per fifteen minutes to keep occupied. I couldn’t help but notice that the department store, J.C. Penney’s, on the main street was still a storefront. Boyfriend asked if I’d like to live there. I replied, “I would rather stick needles in my eyes.”

Post interview, the journey continued another six hours on to Ventura. Finally at 8:00 p.m., we stopped at an In-n-Out Burger. The bill was moderate until we ordered three t-shirts to go. The burgers were better than most fast food chains but skip the fries (Amex not accepted).

Lodging in Ventura was free at cousin Andi’s and breakfast was on the house. Ventura is a surprisingly cute town. We stopped in the Peruvian bead shop (one of my pastimes), where I quickly snapped up some great finds. For supper, we headed to Fiore’s, a quaint Italian eatery with an outdoor patio. Wine was $10 per glass so we all had Peroni instead. Cousin Andi suggested the Gorgonzola pizza with fennel. It was inexpensive given the quality of food and the atmosphere (Amex not accepted).

Day 3 of the Trip:

Santa Maria … never saw it. While boyfriend interviewed, I shopped for sweatshirts in a five and ten. I noticed that all of the women’s eyebrows in this store were shaved off and replaced with a black, stenciled eyebrow (they were paying in cash).

Day 4 of the Trip:

Once in San Diego, our first stop was Point Loma. The air was foggy from the fires, yet the panorama was still a true delight. A $5 entry fee per carload admits you to a spectacular view, gift shop, restrooms, and the predictable telescopes: a definite stop for all ages.

If ever I move to San Diego, you will find me in Balboa Park every Sunday. It is comprised of museums, botanical gardens, gift shops, manicured landscaping, and friendly folks. No entrance fee plus free parking.

Other free and fun spots included Downtown San Diego, Old Town, and Ocean Beach. The only requisite is a vehicle and a Visa card.



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