The journey home

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
Trip End May 24, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We awoke to the swish of the waves breaking on the beach under a cloudless sky. Several people were already surfing - at 6:30 in the morning. We guessed they got a few waves in before heading off to work.

Breakfast was delivered to our room and enjoyed it sitting on the balcony watching the surfers and joggers. We had 200 miles to cover and a plane to catch which was due to take off at 5:35 pm so we were on the road not long after 8:00. As we headed south Route 101 heads inland to circumnavigate Vandenberg AFB - one of many military bases we had passed on our odyssey. For the most part the road was dual carriageway or better and we could maintain a steady 65mph. We decided to stay on 101 rather than the slower and more scenic Route 1 as today we needed to cover the ground rather than take in the view.

We passed through Santa Barbara, Ventura and Oxnard before entering the Santa Monica Mountains and heading into the northern reaches of the Los Angeles conurbation. As we had made good time, we were able to pick up Sunset Boulevard and pass through Beverly Hills on our way to the beach at Santa Monica. Heading south on our old friend the Pacific Coastal Highway (PCH) or CA 1 as it's known we progressed through Venice Beach before negotiating the Marina Del Rey.

Heading back to the beach at El Segundo and on to Manhattan Beach our fuel was getting dangerously low. We had to decide whether to buy some more gasoline or head for the car rental depot. We decided on the latter and were glad to make it with the computer showing less than 30 miles left int he tank! The car had been brilliant averaging 36mpg which for a 2.0 litre engine was good. We had been driving fro 122 hours over the three weeks and covered 4831.9 miles! We had bought about 134 gallons of fuel at an approximate cost of $563 (376) - carbon footprints aside, a very cost-effective way to cover such a vast distance in relative comfort. Mercifully, by using cruise control to ensure we kept to speed limits we managed to evade the ever vigilant Police!

We used the transfer bus to get to Terminal 2 and join the inevitable queue for the bag drop - we had already checke-in online and the hotel had enabled us to print out boarding passes. We were told to drop our bags off at the x-ray machine and join the next queue for immigration checks. This didn't take too long - neither did the carry-on x-ray and personal metal detector check. It was now 3:00 pm and we were in need of sustenance. Options were fairly limited and very pricy, but we enjoyed our lunch.

Virgin Atlantic boarded us early and we pushed back ahead of time and began our 9.5 hour flight. After a meal and drinks the cabin was plunged into darkness. I managed to grab a couple of films and a documentary. Having an aisle seat means you are constantly getting buffeted by passing cabin crew and passengers wandering the aisles. I only managed an hour's interrupted snoozing. Breakfast was served over Iona which was nice.

We landed ahead of schedule and were delighted to find no queue at all for biometric passport lanes. Our baggage arrived after a 10 minute wait. We thought it was nice of the Americans to shrink-wrap Katrina's case and then we realised that the lockas had been broken open for a security inspection and the shrink-wrap was actually holding the case shut! I tried to complain to the Virgin Atlantic ground staff and was told that everybody knew thats ince 9/11 this is what the American's do and we should have left it unlocked. I said that perhaps if we had been alerted to this possibility at check-in, we might have avoided ruining a perfectly good case. They said I should have known this was a likely outcome. The only sour note to otherwise very good trip.

We then had a 2.5 hour wait for a coach and were back in Basingstoke at 4:10pm where our good friend picked us up and took us home.

The end of a wonderful trip. Can we do it again please?
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Norman on

Welcome back, Duncan - and I'm glad you both got home safely. Sorry about the case - and isn't it infuriating when you are told that "everybody knows" when you clearly don't and you know you will not be the only ones!
Hope you are now having time to relax and review all that you've been doing and look forward to seeing you soon.

As ever, Norman.

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