Thursday, November 11, 2010

SoCal and LA LA Land: Santa Barbara to San Diego (27th Oct - 6th Nov '10)

Southern California was unusual in that it lived up to its stereotypes and was exactly what I was expecting. We came over the mountains into Santa Barbara and instantly hit warm air, palm trees and a bunch of wacky people wondering around on the boardwalks alongside the beach.
Our first day in what I consider SoCal we met a guy that told me I had the same name as his mother's dead cat.. even spelt the same way (she died back in '08 rest her soul). Then we had a second crazy guy (who was also drunk just to add to the effect) try to rescue us from the first crazy guy and proceed to tell us we were beautiful and had great butts (that's the nice version). Not much later we watched a woman in a blue tracksuit and a purple leopard print cowboy hat taking her cat for a walk in a pram. The cat was perched inside a child's pink pram (stroller), surrounded by mesh and didn't look very happy about its outing.
The next couple of days south of Santa Barbara we rode along the beaches, past a lot of fancy houses and watched the sunset over the ocean from our campsites. Our last day of riding into Los Angeles was very pretty with the road squashed between the mountains and the ocean. It wasn't as populated as I thought it would be and we rode through some scenic state parks until reaching Malibu. However, from then on in it was the LA that I was expecting, lots of freeways and suburbs. We rode into LA along the beach boardwalks, past Venice Beach, rollerbladers and lots of lifesaver towers (just like Baywatch!).
Coming into Los Angeles I realised we had arrived in the land of beautiful people. We were surrounded by people who were fit, tanned, and wearing beautiful clothes. I was fairly fit and also tanned, but only from the thighs down to my ankles. My feet were reflectively white, I had a white sunglass tan line and I was wondering the streets dressed in my daggy old hiking pants with grease on the legs and holes in the butt. Yeah we felt a little out of place. Luckily we could stay with our friend Stacy, who we had met in the Yukon when we needed a ride through a bushfire. It was great to catch up with her and relax in Long Beach, out of the craziness of LA LA Land.
We were quite happy chilling and catching up with Stacey and Maurice but we kind of felt like we had to go and check out the main sights of LA. However, when we did get in we weren't very taken with the city. It was filled with concrete, malls and fast food outlets and it was very difficult to get around in. We tried cycling (terrifying), catching the bus (painstakingly slow) and walking (just stupid). We quickly retreated to the peace of Stacys House, where we could eat, sleep and relax in the hot tub.
It was Halloween while we were in LA so Jules and I went into West Hollywood (the gay neighbourhood) for the massive street party. It was heaps of fun, we were there in the afternoon and early evening when everyone was just coming out (in both senses of the word) so we could sit outside on the street, have a couple of bevies and watch the beautiful men in their amazing outfits (or lack there-of).. Not since we got dragged to a gay club in Vancouver and saw a naked man showering on stage have we seen so much male flesh!
After three days in LA we said goodbye to Stacey and headed south out of the city. The first night we camped out in a hiker-biker site squished behind the toilet block at a beach - the hiker-biker sites have certainly got less salubrious the further south we have gotten!. The next day we made it to just north of San Diego where we turned inland, into the hills, to Maurice's house. The hills area was very pretty but unfortunately we managed to arrive during a heat wave so it was a fairly hot ride uphill to Maurices. The next day we were having a rest day, which was lucky as it hit 40 degrees Celcius. The hottest November day on record! While at Maurices we spent time getting ready for the next part of our adventure: shopping for some necessities and servicing our bikes (well Maurice serviced our bikes, we just hung around to try and learn and pass him tools).Maurice decided that rather than just tinkering with our bikes he would join us to try out cycle touring for a few days so he spent a couple of days making some adjustments to his mountain bike.. and voila a cycle tourist was born.
Jules and I headed out from Maurices and rode through San Diego, a cool city that reminded me heaps of Perth. We hung out with Team Krusti who were finishing up their trip, so we celebrated with beer and pizza. Our last day in the US we stayed in a campground south of San Diego, not far from the borde,r with Irish Aidan and the Poms - Lorely and Russ. Team Krusti also rode to the border with us on the day we left the US so we had a big cycling convoy through the border town, across the border and into Mexico. Adios USA, Hola Mexico!

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