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Cruising in California - News - bespk

Cruising in California

Posted on Tuesday, 16th October 2012 by Eunice

We had hoped that once South of San Francisco the weather would be warmer along the coast and initially this seemed to be the case.  However, having stopped for a bite of lunch, we noticed a large fog bank looming towards the coast.  By the time the road had taken us around the back of a mountain range, heading towards the coast was a nightmare; freezing cold wind blowing directly against us, reminiscent of the White Pass  in Alaska.  This made the driving extremely difficult and brought back a lot of uncomfortable memories.
The day was also marked by reaching 9999.9 miles on the speedometer, before returning to 0000.0  It seems this little car was never meant to go quite so far.  We drove on down 101 along winding coastal roads that then became flat routes across highly productive plains, growing every kind of vegetable  you could imagine.  This of course is the season for pumpkins, but trying to get a good picture from a moving car proved difficult. 
We spent the night in Santa Cruz.  This is a delightful city with an extensive beach and many tourist attractions for the sun seeker.  It has a long pier/wharf extending out into the ocean on which there are several restaurants.  Beneath the pier there is a small colony of seals that no doubt benefit from the many fishermen who frequent the area.  The cool dudes were out on the ocean paddle surfing – it seems one of the latest crazes here and obviously takes a great deal of skill and balance.
On the 4th October we headed south using 101.  This meant missing out on some of the most beautiful stretch of California coastline, but we now had a date to be in Los Angles on Saturday morning and in order to get there we needed to speed up our journey.  The route is that used by the Spanish missionaries - El Camino Real and is marked by bells suspended from shepherds crooks.  There are areas of intense production, vast vineyards and vegetables  where the land is irrigated, giving way to dry barren ranches as we headed south.
We stopped for lunch in Paso Robles.  What a charming place.  They were busy making preparations for Pioneers Day, recalling the past and honouring those with a long history in the area.  Lunch was amazing – tapas, with an American/Mexican fusion.  Onward to San Luis Obispo where we spent an anxious night anticipating the drive the following day into Los Angeles.
We started our journey on 101 but decided to take the 154 and cut off a corner, without fully appreciating that this took us over a mountain range.  As we approached we could see a steep ascent ahead of us and both feared that the car would never make it.  Despite becoming very hot and both of us very flustered, we reached the summit and descended towards  LA.  The journey was as we had anticipated and 101 becomes first two lanes, increasing in width until six lanes each way.  We were grateful for the improvised flag on the back as it does seem to make other drivers more aware of our presence.  Exhausted we checked into the motel in Burbank and thanked our lucky stars we had arrived in one piece.
We were up at the crack of dawn (for us, but apparently not the Los Angelites), as we had been asked to attend a hot rod gathering in the LaCanada area of LA.  Not knowing where we were supposed to go, we got completely lost, but finally managed to find our way there by heading in the opposite direction to all the ‘old cars’, for as we arrived most people were leaving.  The car caused quite a stir for those who were left as many of them had never seen anything like it before.  There we met a guy called Steve Talbott who invited us to attend another car gathering just up the road.  It seems the thing to do at the weekend, if you have a car you are proud of and wish to share it with others.  Little did we know that we would definitely be lowering the tone.  There were Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porches, Mercedes Benz etc., (If you go to the photo album you could see how many you can name).  They also provided a most sumptuous breakfast.
From there we headed off to Autobooks and Aerobooks at the kind invitation of Tina Van Curen, where we were made to feel most welcome.  This is the place that all the car guys and girls hang out in and has a wealth of literature for any enthusiast.  It was originally established in this area in the 1950s  by an Englishman named Morrow.  Tina had also organised a book signing by the racing driver John Morton.  As we had no space for books (well that didn’t stop Guy from buying a couple of UK car magazines) we got him to sign the car instead.  We were also sent on our way with a comprehensive road map of LA, which proved invaluable and an enthusiastic crank start by one of the guys in the shop. (Sorry we can’t remember your name but we know it made your day).
Just one mile down the road we were pulled over by the LAPD.  Guy emerged from the car a quivering jelly, only to discover that the officer wanted to know what we were up to and we had also made his day  by being the first car with foreign plates that he had stopped.  We set off to the opposite side of LA to visit the Automobile Driving Museum at El Segundo.  The only directions that we had were on freeways  (210/110/105) so we bit the bullet and set off.  Fortunately LA is not so busy on a Saturday.   South of Downtown LA the 110s two outside lanes are given to an express way, so it was to Eunice’s surprise when Guy veered the car across 6 lanes to take the exit for 105.  This rises up over a flyover, which is directly in the flight path of planes landing at Santa Monica airport.  The exit was even scarier as we re-joined 105 in the fast lane and had to repeat the same process all over again.  Needless to say we agreed to take an alternative route back, via Hollywood, which was slower, but felt a lot safer. The museum was very interesting, especially as whilst we were there they started up their 1885 Benz replica.  (The first car ever made). There are plenty of pictures and videos on the photo albums.
After such an exhilarating and exhausting day we had a quiet dinner, fell into bed and slept fitfully awaking to a more tranquil day.  Sunday brunch was had at Bob’s Big Boys, a traditional hangout for hot rod owners and established in 1949.  Guy was encouraged to have the traditional burger on which it stakes its reputation, whilst Eunice chose the more healthy option, both were delicious.   We then drove over to Pasadena to visit Distant Lands, a mecca for travelling folk, to get maps of Central and South America, as our trusty map, which has got us this far runs out after Mexico.  We had a scrumptious barbeque with Mike and Candice Andrews, meeting again with Tina, her husband Chuck, Steve McCarthy and his wife.  Driving back through northern LA in the dark was an adventure, but we got back to the hotel without a hitch.
Vic Groah in Tulare (where the car will have its 10,000 mile service) contacted us the following day to say that oil, tyres and all necessary for the service had arrived, so Monday will be our last day in LA before we head north again.  We awoke to find they were filming just across the road from our room – what a lot of people and paraphernalia.  After lunch we set off back to the Andrews household for our first Spanish lesson.  Guy found it difficult to concentrate and rapidly disappeared to the garage where he and Michael conversed in English and ‘car speak’.  Will we ever be prepared for Mexico?

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