I think my best Californian friend Michael just did. Well, it is so easy to be the best friend from the Golden State when you have only ONE friend from there. Ha, my logic is so simple.
My friend rushed back into California for a reason a week ago. As it is Saturday and there are only happy thoughts on my blog, let me just say this:
Michael, your dad is going to be ok. I wish him nothing but health and happiness. Always look on the bright side of life buddy.
I asked my friend where he was. LA was my first choice, as he was born there. Nope, he mentioned Santa Barbara and all the memories came back. I cannot believe it has been 10 years now. Time flies so fast. It was my second road trip in USA. And yet again we flew to Cali. First time it was September 2009. Me and my dear friend Ula took a flight to San Francisco. The following day we hit the road to Yosemite. It was an amazing time. Love the nature in US. We slept in Vesalia, Fresno and San Francisco. From Yosemite and Sequoia NP we drove to the Pacific coast to admire the scenic road number 1.
We stopped in Monterrey for gas and memorabilia. Oh my, oh my. Maybe one day i will write about that trip too. This time it is about Santa Barbara and my second road trip in California.
It was the beginning of February 2010. We came to Las Vegas, rented a car and hit the road.
I had to mention time differences. We came to NYC a day before. So we were 6 hours ahead. We came to Vegas. Another 3 hours ahead. After an hour we crossed the Arizona-Nevada border and 1 hour behind. So we were confused. So were our bodies. At least we did not have any problems with early waking up.
It looked so gigantic. The road above was still under construction. We explored this place for a while. Really impressive place.
This was the first time when i was stunned by nature in USA. I was the driver so i was focusing on what was ahead of me. At some point i glimpsed at a huge hole on the left. It dawned on me what it was. I had to find the nearest vista point and get off the car and see that hole again. The Grand Canyon is unbelievable. I definitely would come back there. To explore the bottom of the canyon and other parts of this national park. I really felt sorry for all those wild, wild west people in their stagecoaches. You just wanted to get from point A to point B in the shortest period of time and all of the sudden you met this huge abyss below. And you had to detour that hole in the ground.
Salingman, Route 66
We needed to take the advantage of being nearby, so we decided to take a little detour. You heard so much about Route 66 so when we saw signs, we knew we had to drive off of our way. I did not expect anything so i was amazed by this place. Junk stuff everywhere. But it had its charm. We bought some gifts in a random gift store. A guy thought we were from Germany. Oops. Nope. But you were so close mister.
On our way to Joshua Tree National Park we visited London Bridge in … Lake Havasu. It really looked like … the London Bridge in … London.
On a gas station we asked for some help. My friend had told me that they could have brochures with discount coupons for the hotel. So at a gas station i asked a lady if by any chance she had them. Nope. But she said something like that:
Honey, you go this road for about 90 miles and then turn left and there is gonna be a diner. They have them
We thanked her and took off. We did not believe her. 90 miles? It was far. How come she knows that? – we asked ourselves. But what do you know when you are from a small country. 90 miles in Poland is a quite far ride. The second time i was awed by nature was when we stopped for pee. I looked up and saw a sky full of stars. You could say it was nothing out of the ordinary. But those blinking spots were so close. You could reach for the stars.
After 90 miles, on the left we saw the place and burst out laughing. She was so damn precise.
We wanted to visit the Joshua Tree National Park. We were not good at planning trips to venues like that back then. We hoped we would find any hotel nearby easily. Well, it was the other way around. When we finally, after some refusals and “no vacancy” signs, heard there was something available, we were on the cloud number 9. Yay, we have a place to sleep – i cheered myself up in my head. However the price of one room knocked us down. We needed two rooms or one big one. We were not happy with what we heard. There was only one room for 116$. But it was only for two. She could help us and arrange us with another room in a befriended hotel not far away. The price would be similar. It was way too expensive.
Hence we continued cruising around the area and all of the sudden we found something that looked like a motel. It was in the middle of nowhere. A mirage? Thank God no. Me and my friend went to the reception office. A lady had one maisonette vacant. We took a glimpse and booked it right away. It turned out to be a Jack Kerouac’s house/cottage. I did not remember if he had lived there for some time or he had just stayed there for a night (like us). My friend’s wife entered our palace and said shocked “I am not going to sleep in here”. Well, thank god we were in posession of a half gallon bottle of margarita. I remember we all slept in our clothes. And only men dared to use the bathroom. In the morning we saw that our place was few steps from the highway. So it was easy to find. Thank god no one hit our house during the night. Staying in the Jack Kerouac’s place was a nice experience. After 10 years i still remember it. Maybe that is why i am so good at writing my two blogs?
Joshua Tree National Park
It was my second national park i visited. And i loved it from the very beginning. So pleasant to explore. It was a nice way of getting that awful taste of margarita, to freshen our heads. We even got a little sun burnt. Can you imagine that? In February! In Poland there was winter with some very low temperatures and here you could enjoy the sun. How nice. We drove the park across. Stopped here and there. We even managed to take some small hikes. We had everything – rocks, bigger rocks, rocky hills, valleys, Joshua trees, cactus meadow. I saw a guy taking out big needles form the sole of his shoes. The Joshua Tree National Park was a really good place to visit. Luckily we met no snakes or other poisonous creatures.
What stroke me at first? The cleanness and peaceful of the city. Back then, i only knew San Francisco, so i could compare only those two Californian cities. We spent one day in San Diego. We went to Coronado Island, wandered some streets. We even wanted to go to Tijuana by the streetcar, but we got off after two stops. It was so slow and we did not want to waste our time. We visited Balboa park, aircraft carrier, Unconditional Surrender Statue instead. I remember a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant. San Diego was nice. I would love to go there again one day. In the morning we hit the road to the City of Angels.
It was raining. I took out my camera and started filming what was outside, around our red Dodge. Wipers were on, Phil Collin’s In the Air Tonight was on too. An interesting combination, i must admit. Luckily the weather in LA was better. No rain. First place we visited? Kodak Theatre. I met Snoop Dogg there. Next up was Hollywood sign. We just put “Hollywood sign” in our GPS and it took us the closest we could get. Someone was bigger that time. Shhh, that was my evil twin brother 🙂
Mulholland Dr looked so ordinary during the day. I was pretty sure it got better by the night. We had only less than a day so we drove thru some places – Beverly Hills, Universal Studios. We stopped for a rest in Venice Beach. Ocean always calms me down.
We moved on to Santa Barbara. I really do not know why i picked a night there. Maybe Santa Barbara sounded so glamorous, excited, rich and famous? Dunno. I remember i was a fan of Santa Barbara tv series back in the late 80s or early 90s. Another fact of (silly) me. Before reaching our destination we admired the beautiful sunset in Malibu.
In Santa Barbara we called for a cab and celebrated the night in a seafood or fish restaurant. The margarita menu was as long as a food menu.
the road trip to Vegas
we were lucky. The day we had to get back to Las Vegas was the Super Bowl night. So there was not so many people in the stores and restaurants and the traffic was low. As we were not familiar with American football we could spend the day on … not watching the game. The Who was performing during the halftime show. As we were not fans of that band we could spend the day on … not watching the halftime show. We drove thru the Mojave Desert and entered Las Vegas when it was dark.
It was like i imagined it would be. The city of blinding lights. We had booked a room at the MGM Grand Hotel.
The following day we were supposed to visit Death Valley. Let me just say we did not go there. Well, my friends went there in December 2017 and i was there six months later. Vegas was fun but i do not fancy going back there. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas
That was my second trip to California. The third was in May 2018. I came to LA, rented a car and drove to Beatty, Nevada. I was exploring Death Valley. On the way back to NYC i met with my friend in LA for a late lunch. The place was awful. Very loud, i could not even hear myself. And food was mediocre. Interestingly i am not in touch with this person anymore.
The Sophie B. Hawkins’ song i pick is the song i love. I was playing it while driving across California. From LAX to Beatty. The second song i was torturing myself with was Belinda Carlisle’s California.
Some people got it all
Some people got none
I been banging my head against
The writing on the wall
I just want to have fun
California here I come
Open up your golden arms
I had enough of the New York City slums