As I recall the last update was posted from my friends place in Chico. It was a pleasant visit and I look forward to seeing Ricardo again someday and hopefully sooner rather than later. Ricardo did let me know abut the existence of a bus graveyard just off I-5 in the town of Williams, which was right on my way west. He said there were a lot of old buses there and I was keen to see it for myself. The place is located right by the freeway on the north-east side of Husted Rd. exit. There are at least two dozen really old cool buses there all in various states of decomposition and even an old fire engine in the middle of all that chaos. I decided to make some exposures there and pulled out my Rolleiflex 3.5F, loaded it with Verichrome Pan film and went exploring. Those negatives are now drying in the darkroom and some of the frames came out pretty neat. Among all the buses I did not see any Gilligs, which made me think that they either don't break down at all or that people really cherish them and restore them when they do break. I was there for about an hour and did not see a single living being save for a cat or two. From there I was on my way to Cloverdale CA to present a Magic Lantern Show.
There are very few roads that lead from I-5 to the 101 north of San Francisco and I was forced to take highway 20 to the 29. Once you get to 29 there is indeed a sign warning that vehicles over 39ft are not allowed on that road - Gilli is 35ft, so I thought I'd be all right... Little did I anticipate the amount of twists and turns that lay ahead. I swear I am never taking that road again unless I'm in a sports car, in which case it would be very fun and one would have time to enjoy the mountain terrain and the scenery. As it was, Gilli barely made the turns and on one of the particularly cruel right curves a pickup truck appeared from around the corner and was heading straight for me (at that point Gilli's nose was completely in the oncoming traffic lane). I swerved to avoid a head-on collision and, though I succeeded in killing the poor chap in the pickup, I did touch the guard rail with the right side of the bus - the damage was minimal, but there is a new mark on my baby and I feel terrible about it. Someday, hopefully soon, I'll get enough money to give Gilli a new paint job - I'll be sad to see it in a color other than yellow, but I think it would be great to put something definitively photographic on her.
Cloverdale is a nice little town, which I have already mentioned in a previous post. There I stayed with the director of the History Center, which houses the Historical Society that invited me for a show. I enjoyed the stay very much and the show went well - there were about 25 people in attendance and I got a lead on an arc-light Lantern with a set of lantern slides that may depict slaves picking cotton. All that is left is to go back there again and help a guy dig through one of his 8(!) storage units... Sounds like fun!
From there is was a short drive to Fort Ross where I had a show scheduled the following day. On the way I once again stayed with Barbara Hoffman, the woman responsible for turning me into a Traveling Lanternist. Too bad the visit was rather short as I always enjoy the company of her and her husband Gary. Fort Ross was awaiting and I knew it was going to be a short, but grueling drive. The Fort is an old Russian encampment and was occupied by them in the 19th century, so there is a lot of history there and I was glad to have a chance to do a presentation at such a prominent location. Fort Ross is also located directly on the coast of California, right on the side of highway 1 - quite possibly one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Aside from being a gorgeous piece of civil engineering, highway 1 is an intensely windy road with quite a few hairpin switchbacks, blind turns, steep ups and downs and all the rest that makes driving a joy for sports car owners, but hell for buses. I only had to go about 20 miles each way on it and took it extremely slowly and cautiously, managing to neither fall off a cliff into the ocean nor damage the bus or any other cars that were met along the way.