At around 7.45am, Mark and I headed down to the lobby and met the 5 new members of our Tour. Todd had told the rest of the ‘carry-overs’ not to meet up until 8am and to not interrupt him as he did his introduction with the newbies.
When Todd finished, Mark and I started introducing ourselves to Steve, Zack, Annabel, Joanna and Kristina, but not before breaking a strap pin of my watch when trying to put my very heavy rucksack down again. Who needs a watch anyway when you are on a trip like this? I kept saying that I didn’t really want to keep a track of time when on the Tour, so now I couldn’t!
Eventually the rest of the group (and G and Graham) showed up and we quickly headed outside to our van and trailer. Turns out we got the same one as before, despite the dents and bumps we may (or may not) have put in the interior!
As usual Mark was the trailer loader and I was his trusty assistant, and started showing the newbies what had to be done.
I hadn’t touched on this before, but when we had up loaded up in the mornings, certain bags went in at certain times. Always first in, after all the tents and cooking boxes and coolers, was Jess’s ‘Beast’. This suitcase was the weight of a small person, and very awkward to pick up and load in the trailer. It had caused Mark so much grief every morning. As soon as we mentioned that the ‘Beast’ was there, he let out either a loud sigh, or anguished cry!
Just as Jess’s ‘Beast’ was first in, Sumi’s second carry bag was one of the last. Over the past 34 days, she, like myself, has accumulated so many ‘souvenirs’ and we had begun joking that she either had members of her family in there, or that it was another dead body. I swear that every day it gained the weight of another body in there!
Whilst the loading up is going on, Jess and Graham were going through their little act of trying to get the new guys to think that Graham was with Jess for the whole Tour as a couple but then have a massive barney ending with Graham walking out on the Tour.
It was convincing up until the point Jess burst into laughter almost straightaway. Oh and when I told Zack it wasn’t true.
Once the trailer was loaded, Kylie, Scott and I decided to spare the newbies from the back seat on their first day and took our positions for the ride.
When the van was ready to leave, our morning song was introduced to the new 5 and Todd tells us our first destination is Hollywood! We already knew this so I had planned to make sure I found Gene Kelly’s star for Zoe this time.
As soon as we arrived and got kicked out of the van, I soon left everyone else and make my way along the blocks Zoe and I had covered 2 days previous. Most of the others who had been here the other day had decided to kill the time by getting a coffee nearby, which didn’t interest Steve much.
Very quickly he caught up to me, and asked if I may need help.
We searched and searched, and searched and searched, until finally we asked a supposedly guide for these stars where we could find this particular one. All he can do was point us in the direction of a nearby corner shop whose owner should know. Turns out he sells maps for these stars, which I bought, but not before some last minute bargaining from Steve to try and get the info for free, with no luck. After opening up the map, it turns out we were just 200 yards or so away from finding it before we stopped for help! D’oh!
To give an indication of where it is, it is passed the Hollywood & Vine blocks, which in distance from the Chinese Theatre is quite a way off!
No matter, I now had Zoe’s star! Shame it was 2 days too late.
Back in the van, I texted her to let her know, and we ended up having a delayed text conversation as our journey took us out of LA and onto our next stop on the new Tour, and she was waiting at the airport, before being in the air, and landing back in Florida.
At that moment I was missing her a little, but carried on as usual. No point getting down about it. Nothing I could do about it.
After leaving Hollywood (again!) we were making our way to Santa Barbara for the first rest point. Todd had timed the visit with the World Cup Final as Holland were playing, so when we reached Santa Barbara, we all split up and find our different spots to take in the final.
Sumi was not interested, and neither were Joanna and Kristina, so they decided to go walking around the place. Mark goes off on his own, whilst Kylie, Scott, Zack, Annabel, Becca and I find a small pizzeria that was empty and, whilst ordering lunch as well, took in the Final.
By the end of the game, Todd and Mark had made their way there, as well as Joanna and Kristina, only to see Holland lose in extra time.
We hadn’t really planned for the final to go into extra time, so we were already behind schedule on the new Tour. The atmosphere in the pizzeria was exciting, especially with Mark being the only Dutchman against several Spanish people in the shop! All the banter adds to the excitement of the occasion.
On the way back to the van, Mark was a broken man and was almost impossible to consol after the defeat, which I found hilarious.
Back in the van, we headed on the long journey for Monterey, which I spent most of the journey chatting with Steve in the row in front. When we reached the site, we quickly unloaded, before Todd showed the newbies how to put the tents up.
At this point, Sumi decided she didn’t want to share with Annabel, or anyone for that matter, and wanted a tent to herself. Despite being a little surprised by this, like the rest of us, Annabel wasn’t put off and gets a tent of her own.
Like the first day of the Tour, Todd was cooking again, and again he was making that wonderful meal of steak fajitas, whilst the rest of us made ourselves comfortable on the first night of the new Tour.
The new Groups were announced as well. I was in Group A still, with Sumi, with Joanna and Kristina joining us. Group B is Kylie, Scott, Steve and Annabel, and Group C is Jess, Becca, Sarah and Zack. At first I wondered why I had been giving the task of having a group with 3 girls from foreign countries, two of which, didn’t speak much English, but I quickly decided that this was a task I could handle, so was determined to enjoy it. I actually saw myself as the leader of our small group now.
Unlike the first half, we decided to make a fire, which I took control of and got going really quickly. Just to mark the occasion, I put my campfire jumper on – an old Rugby World Cup New Zealand replica top. It just wouldn’t be the same without that top.
I even tried to get some campfire songs going, knowing full well that Cub Camp wasn’t far off back home. Instead we just crowded around, got some beers and saw the evening out, after Todd had gone through the itinerary of the second half of the Tour, which wasn’t as long as the first one, so no one dropped off to sleep halfway through!
Some others headed to the nearby beach and came across a dead seal washed up on the sand, which seemed to freak Jess out more than anyone else.
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