Thursday, November 29, 2018


During the week of Thanksgiving we took a trip to California. On the Saturday before, we flew into Oakland. After touching down, we rented our Toyota Prius Hybrid and were off! Our first stop was to try and see the Dunsmuir Mansion – which was the setting for Morningside Funeral Home from the film “Phantasm.” The grounds were completely locked up. So the best we could do was settle for a picture of the place.

From there we crossed the bay into San Francisco. The recent California fires left a haze in the air. We checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Centric, and spent the rest of the evening eating and exploring nearby Fisherman’s Wharf.

On Sunday we took a walk to the famous crooked portion of Lombard Street. From there we walked to Pier 33 to take a boat trip around Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Due to the fires in California, our Alcatraz trip was cancelled. So the boat trip would have to do! After the boat ride we explored Pier 39 and saw the famous sea lions. We also stopped for a quick bite to eat at the Hard Rock CafĂ© before heading back to our hotel to check out. When we left we then drove to a closer spot next to the famous bridge. We then crossed it and set out for our first new county of the trip. We headed east on I-205 and Highway 132 towards the city of LaGrange. After passing through the small city, we crossed into Tuolumne County. Less than one mile later we also crossed into Mariposa County. From there we turned around and headed back to LaGrange, where we headed south and crossed into Merced County about three miles later. Once we got to the city of Merced, we headed southwest on HWY 99 towards Fresno. Along the way we crossed into Madera and Fresno Counties. Our hotel was In Fresno. After checking in we stopped for an awesome dinner at Mr. Ed’s Pizza Parlor.

On Monday we had some sightseeing to do. We got back on Highway 99 and continued southwest, driving through Tulare County along the way. Our goal was Sequoia National Park. But first we took a right turn after exiting and crossed into King County, about four miles down the road. From there we turned around and headed straight for the Park. Inside we saw the gigantic trees (including the famous General Sherman – the biggest tree in the world. We even drove through one of the fallen giants. As we were leaving the park, we ran into a couple of bears.

Once we left the park we headed mostly south, with a destination of Hollywood. After getting onto Highway 65 we passed through Kern County, our last new county for a couple of days. Eventually we reached our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Burbank. After checking in we walked a block away for a steak dinner at Black Angus Steakhouse.

On Tuesday we had no new counties to hit. But we did have plenty of sightseeing to do! We started out the day by taking the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, where we saw plenty of filming sights, including my personal favorite – the sheriff’s office from the TV show “The Dukes Of Hazzard.” We also saw props from several Batman films, the original Maltese Falcons, as well as outfits from the upcoming “Aquaman” movie.

Later in the day we drove past the Hollywood Bowl before checking into our hotel, the Loews Hollywood Hotel, which offered us a fantastic view of the Hollywood Sign from our room. A few hours later we strolled up and down Hollywood Boulevard before heading in for a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

On Wednesday we began our drive back to the Bay area. We stopped to see the gravesite of Ronald Reagan on the way, which took us into Ventura County – our first new county of the day. Upon leaving the Reagan Library we decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway drive north. Along the way we passed through both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties – our last two new counties of the trip. The final leg of this trip was a little rainy. So we weren’t able to get the best pictures. But it was still very scenic nonetheless. Eventually we arrived at our hotel, the Homewood Suites in San Jose.

On Thanksgiving morning we drove over to the Winchester Mystery House, our last tourist destination for the trip. After the tour we drove straight to the Oakland Airport for our early afternoon flight home.

When it was all said and done, we'd picked up 11 new counties, and had finished all of southern California, for what will no doubt be our last county collecting trip of the year. What's next? We currently have a county-heavy trip planned for Kansas in February. So stay tuned!

                                                          NEW COUNTIES - 11
                                                          TOTAL NEW COUNTIES FOR 2018 - 135
                                                          ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1852