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Wednesday, 28 January 2015


We left LA to go to San Francisco and we went on a roadtrip. This was mainly to see the sights and stop off along the way and partly so I didn't have to get on another plane. We were up early and got our hire car which was some kind of monster truck. After repeatedly getting in the wrong side to drive it, we sorted ourselves out and hit the road. If 15mph can be called 'hitting'. We stopped for breakfast in Malibu. We knew Jennifer Aniston lived there but she didn't invite us round so we instead we settled on a venue based on where had the biggest car park. That way we could abandon the car and not have to think about reversing it. 
Then we drove all the way there on the Pacific Coast Highway. At least that was the plan. I started things well by throwing a U turn on the highway. In my defence we needed to be on the other side of the road and we were at some lights and the car in front did it. I assume we were alright but I did rather alarm my passenger. We then cruised along for a bit. Cruised along with quite a bias to the right. I never knew how much you aligned yourself in the road based on where you sat. All our driving was accompanied by the passenger flinching, gripping the seat and murmuring with varying degrees of panic 'you might want to move over to the left a bit'. I was gaining confidence when suddenly we came up against a road block which announced the highway was closed. There was no diversion signs. A couple of cars went round the signs and carried on but given my ability to get fines for driving in foreign countries we decided to put it in to the sat nav and trust that. 
The sat nav saw an opportunity. 
It told us to turn left. I did (accompanied by a cry of 'you're on the wrong side of the road') we then went up the steepest hill in the world. With a sheer drop to one side of us and hairpin bends every four feet. This went on for half an hour. I led a parade of cars through the mountains. They couldn't get past me and I felt unable to go more than 15 mph. Then we got to come down the mountain again. Thankfully we then got back on to the highway intending to speed through and go and see Hearst Castle. 
We arrived ten minutes after the castle shut. Luckily we were able to use the toilets. Unfortunately they were out of order and so we got to use a chemical toilet in the car park. It is unlikely that this trip will make the guide books. We did get to see this sunset though. The thumb over the lens is all my own work. We went and got dinner and I fell in love with our waitress. She was around 100 years old and offered you food in the same way your Grandma would. "A little more Dr Pepper dear?" While I made plans to kidnap her we watched the sun fully set. It was beautiful. 
It also meant that we got to do the last two hours of the drive in the pitch black. The road was similar to the mountain roads. At least I think it was. I couldn't actually see further than the headlights. There were no street lights, no cats eyes and no straight roads. I thought my bum would never unclench. Eventually we got to our motel and I celebrated by not sleeping. 
The next day we went to see sealions in Monterey harbour and then went to Santa Cruz. Afterwards we drove to San Francisco, luckily my friend was driving when we got to the 6 lane motorway where every lane went to a different location and we had to get across 6 lanes in about 30 seconds. We made it on the third attempt. 
I don't think either of us were particularly sad when we gave the car back. Pleased we had done it but more pleased to be back on public transport. 


I recovered from jet lag and started sleeping like a normal human being on the 4th January, I celebrated by flying to California and flinging my body clock back eight hours. 
Oh I like California. Before I went everyone told me that it was incredibly superficially and all the people were really shallow. Well it turns out I'm not that deep myself and I loved it. I like getting the choice of fifteen different types of milk for my tea, I like being told to have a nice day by everyone; I don't really care if they mean it or not, if they want to act like meeting me was the best thing to ever happen to them that day (or possibly in their life) then I am happy to let them. I don't think we are going to be best friends but it does make the day more pleasant.  
I was on my own for two days, I drank a lot of coffee, went to bookshops, discovered that an inch on a map is about four thousand miles in real life. Then my friends arrived and we became full on tourists. Hollywood walk of fame, diners, food, more food, a bit more food, a tour of stars houses (they could have pointed at anything and I would have believed them), comedy shows, shopping, we packed the days pretty full. The strangest thing we did was go to a cemetery. I would like to stress that it was in the guide books, we weren't just wandering round graveyards. Apparently a lot of celebrities are buried there. We politely wandered around looking for names we knew - Mickey Rooney's gravestone was there, which was a surprise to us all as we didn't know he was dead. We assumed he was actually buried there rather than simply planning ahead. 
We got in to the LA way of life quite easily, picking up coffee everywhere, buying food in industrial quantities, using Uber (amazing). We had an air bnb place so we had a whole house to ourselves which was handy for my wandering around in the middle of the night. Everyone seemed to think we were Australian for some reason and on finding out we were British really only wanted to talk about the weather. 
Which to be honest I was fine to talk about - it was lovely and warm, all the time, and this was their winter. It did make you think that summer must be unbearable but for us it was incredible. No wonder the people are so happy and want to talk to you all the time. It's warm! They can stand outside and talk to you without their hands falling off. Incidentally, talking of hands; the day after I got off the plane I was walking around for about 7 hours. At one point I went to bend my fingers to scratch the inside of my hand. I couldn't move my fingers. I looked down and the plane and the heat and having my hands hanging down the whole day had turned me in to what can only be described as a 'fat handed twat'. It was like I was wearing Mickey Mouse gloves. It was easily repaired by holding my hands up and walking around with them in the air, which was a lovely look. 
Oh and if anyone knows can some one tell me why the sun sets so quickly there? Is it something to do with the equator? There are incredible sunsets but they last about twenty seconds. You could blink and miss it. You'd also assume the blink sent you blind as it's suddenly dark. Answers on a postcard please.