Our trip so far
Post #1217 • August 4, 2008, 3:45 PM • 12 Comments
July 30: I'm disappointed in myself that as many times as we've moved in the last two years (three, for the record), we were scrambling to finish packing as the movers arrived. But at last we got the apartment cinched up and loaded. We pulled the RV into Sushi Mori, which had become our favorite night out in Dana Point, for one last meal, with sake toasts all around for us and the jokey Korean guys behind the counter. They congratulated us warmly. Charley said that he'll come look us up in Boston if we end up there; Hiro said that he'll just be looking for a place to stay. I told them he can stay as long as he wants if he cooks.
The ranger at Doheny campground turned us away. We see the same RVs out in the parking lot all the time, day after day, for months, but they insisted that overnight dry camping is illegal there. We went back to our erstwhile neighborhood and parked around the corner of the apartment for the night.
July 31: Although we were out of the apartment, we still had a ton of errands to run. I couldn't take the call from our old landlords - driving while holding a cell phone to your ear became illegal in the state of California on July 1 - so they called Supergirl to tell her that the keys with which we had just locked the apartment were inoperable. Could we come back and show them which keys went with which lock? She explained to them that no, we could not. I trust they found their way in once they understood that we were done doing their work for them. Ah, renting. I hope never to do it again if I can help it.
From El Toro RV we purchased an iAntenna and a three-bike hitch. The iAntenna had to be specially shipped from North Carolina and they couldn't arrange to do the installation right then, so it sits in a box awaiting deployment. The hitch works fine, although our friend's beach cruisers had to be arranged rather creatively to fit on them. We were getting ready to go when one of the mechanics from the shop, a young kid who filled our propane tank, backed a catering truck into us, destroying the hitch and bending the bikes up. They apologetically brought the bikes back into the shop and made them ridable, put them on a new hitch, and said they'd contact us about monetary compensation.
We spent the night at an RV park in Huntington Beach. The space was a few inches shorter than the vehicle, so we had to pull off the bikes and the hitch to back into it. Our neighbors across the driving lane were full-time renters there. The monthly rate is $1500, and you will not find a better deal for beachfront living in Los Angeles.
August 1: We slept in - our bodies still hurt from the move. We walked Huntington Beach, where we saw surfers and a summer camp for junior lifeguards in action, all wearing havy blue swimsuits and red bathing caps. Piero could have done a lovely painting of the scene. We left camp and threw ourselves into the abomination that is traffic in Los Angeles, stopping at The Spot in Hermosa Beach for their renowned veggie burger. But after taking the dogs out for a stretch, we came back to the RV to find one of the cats missing. Codename: Snowflake had found a hideout among the AC hoses under the dashboard and we didn't know whether she could extract herself, or how hot it was under there. Getting her out required disassembly of the vent and Supergirl's massage-therapist hands. The burgers were delicious.
Sated and sitting by the window in the restaurant, SG expressed doubts about leaving California. There is something profoundly intelligent about setting yourself up so that your bills are paid, and henceforth devoting your existence to improving your surfing. Achievement is overrated. She could do massage; I could make surfing-themed paintings. I'm not too proud. While discussing this, two twenty-year-olds in bikinis walked by. (This has become fashionable among girls of that age here: walking around in town with your girlfriend wearing only your bikini.) I hastened to agree with Supergirl, although she was looking the other way and I had to explain why. When another two girls walked by in bikinis later on, I noted to her that they weren't the same ones.
We intended only to stop by to say goodbye, but Supergirl's friend G., who has an exquisite apartment overlooking Venice Beach, had enough room to park the RV, so we had good conversation with her and her friend J. and we slept in a king-sized bed with no wheels under it.
August 2: We went for a run along Venice Beach among the sidewalk artists, bums, athletes, and tourists. Afterwards we had brunch at The Figtree and continued fighting our way out of Los Angeles. After some productive driving, we found our way to a campground at Cachuma Lake, 800 feet above sea level and about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara. Cachuma is a fresh-water lake with good fishing and mussels, about which there was a lecture at the outdoor theater that night by a park ranger. The local zebra mussels are being displaced by quaggas, an upstart European import, with whom they are locked in an unforgiving molluscoid battle of survival.
August 3: Eager to cover some ground after our slow disentanglement from Orange County, we pushed up the 101 and cut over to the 1. We stopped briefly at Hearst Castle, but I recognize a tourist trap when I see one. Besides, it didn't look like it would compare to the rich peoples' houses we had seen in Newport last year. The castle sits way up on a hill, so you enter a reception building that arranges tours and provides amenities. SG asked if I wanted lunch. This conversation ensued:
Me: Sure. We can eat right here at the Charles Manson Café.
SG: That's totally wrong.
Me: They make a really good patty melt.
(unrestrained distasteful giggling)
We continued up the coast - extraordinary coast. Your mental image of Californian coastal beauty - the waves, the mountains, the sunshine, the cliffs - are likely based on the central coast. I only stole occasional glances as I maneuvered our 32-foot bus down roads as twisted as overcooked linguine. I now feel prepared for a second career as a fighter pilot.
It was the kind of landscape that would inspire the hell out of your art if you ensconced yourself into it, and it occurred to me that there was a foundation of sorts for one of my favorite writers, Henry Miller, somewhere around the Big Sur region. We ran across it not long after, a holdout of beatnik/hippie contrarianism nestled into the woods alongside Highway 1, with an outdoor theater, a bookstore, and a local acoustic band practicing outside. I had wanted to bring along Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch for the trip but it got packed into storage, so I bought a fresh copy from the bookstore, which closed minutes after we entered.
We spent the night in a rustic campsite, the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, situated alongside a cold, shallow river that shelters crawdads and steelheads. I failed to start a fire with some damp, dense firewood given to us by our next-door neighbor at Cachuma. Pouring good vodka on it to get it going was sensibly vetoed by Supergirl. We were in bed by 9:30 - our sleeping is beginning to conform to the light.
Posted from a coffee shop in Monterey.