Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
96Trip End Apr 16, 2011
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Gordon had a practical lesson in how mirages work when he spent 10 minutes talking about the massive lake up ahead and how strange it was to see one in a desert, even stopping the car and climbing up a little hill to have a look before realizing that there was no water, just sun reflecting off the heat haze and dust.
We did a short drive-through visit of the spectacular Joshua Tree National Park, marveling at the beautiful rock formations and incredible photogenic Joshua Trees that were reaching 30m high – and normally grow about an inch a year
We pressed on to San Diego crossing out of the desert, over the pretty Sierra mountains and then down to the coast where the temperature on a clear August evening with the sea breeze was beautifully and mercifully cool after the ravaging heat of the desert.
We had hot-tailed it down to San Diego as we had managed to get in touch with a friend from university, Mark, and his wife Anna who had recently re-located to Pacific Beach, a lovely suburb of San Diego right on an awesome beach. Happily we had timed our arrival for a house-warming party in their beautiful flat with windows out facing the Pacific and it was fantastic to party away at their house, catching up with Mark and Anna, meeting their cool Californian friends and educating them in proper English (ie not to say 'double fisted’). The next few days were then spent chilling out, eating a lot and enjoying the time on the beach with everyone in glorious sunshine, including some good long bodyboarding sessions and finally getting out the the set of beach boules we had bought in Target (for $16) for a three way game of "Extreme Boules" with Mark, Iain and Gordon. We also managed to catch up with Gordon & Iain’s cousin, Sam, who had come to San Diego for university and hasn’t wanted to leave. Sun, sea & surf? What’s wrong with London fog, huh?
No trip to San Diego is complete without visiting the vast and brilliant San Diego Zoo so we also duly headed there and had spent an absorbing day watching the weird and wonderful animals
Our next stop after San Diego on the start of our trip northwards to Canada was another family connection with Gordon’s Dad’s cousin Jane and her husband Bob in Ojai. They live in a lovely house out in the hills just outside Los Angeles where we arrived just in time to catch up over a drink on the patio staring out at the fabulous sunset.
Happily Jane & Bob live only a short drive away from the eagerly awaited Six Flags Los Angeles rollercoaster park. We were outside the door with pre-purchased tickets 15 minutes before the doors opened and it did not disappoint
We then pressed on north following the coastal Highway 1 which would take us up and over some of the beautiful coastal scenery of San Luis Obispo and the Sierra hills, stopping for a couple of nights on the way at a cabin in a campsite out in the middle of nowhere. We ended up in the middle of nowhere rather than the beach because we had forgotten it was now Labour Day weekend and the area was packed, and to our horror had to stay at a KOA, standing for 'Kampgrounds of America’ which hitherto we’d avoided on account of their terrible spelling. Happily we managed to upgrade from a ‘Kabin’ (which was one K too far) to a lodge and it was actually pretty nice, and meant we could have a campfire and introduce Iain to our campfire hotdogs
We made it to San Francisco for Iain’s last night with us where we headed straight to Japantown for some awesome americanised sushi as a final goodbye meal. The next day was gloriously sunny and we made the most of it enjoying gorgeous San Fran by heading up to some hills and viewpoints and over to the Golden Gate bridge before we needed to head out to the airport. There was a minor drama at the airport when we suddenly discovered that Iain’s passport had disappeared. Cue a more-than-slightly-frantic last minute emptying of the car only to find a small backpack containing a passport and various other important items sitting quietly on the back seat. Phew.
Iain, it was so great to see you and we hope you enjoyed your part of our American road trip. And we definitely need a mini-golf rematch once we’re home!!