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Published: August 6th 2015
It's 10.10 on 5th August. We've now arrived at our final destination - Los Angeles, and in this blog I will write about how we got from San Francisco.
We got up at the usual time on Friday morning, as we needed to be checked out by 10. I went down for breakfast, showered and packed up my last few things. From there we made the long walk from the hostel, down 5th, to the bus station. Normally this would have been a pleasant 20 minute walk through the city, but laden with bulging backpacks, redundant coats and, of course, Rosie's suitcase, the walk was a little more of a challenge.
We made it, however, and at length found our Megabus heading for Sacramento. This particular bus company only does shorter trips so is without some of the amenities available on the greyhound, but was nonetheless comfortable enough and reliable. We passed over Bay Bridge once more, and headed out into the freeway - which was surrounded by more and more arid and inhospitable country as we went.
It was under 2 hours before we were in Sacramento, left on the far Western outskirts of the city. We found the
light rail, and rode it into the downtown - arriving finally at our hostel on H and 10th (some of the Californian cities use not only the numerical street naming, but also alphabetical, which seems a little cold and unhomely to me). In short, the hostel - another and our last HI - was amazing. It was an old rambling manor on the edge of downtown, still complete with all of the beautiful old decorations and furniture in its spacious common rooms.
We checked in with the wonderfully friendly and very camp receptionist, Travis. It was at this point Rosie realised her passport wasn't where it should be. The hostel was booked under her name, so her passport was the most important to have with is, and a moment later the moment of realisation dawned on Rosie as she realised where it was. She had put it in a paper bag only (theoretically) temporarily, but ended up leaving it there and throwing it in the bin in our room in the hostel in San Fran,
Travis was great - telling us not to worry about Rosie's ID as he had ours, and finding the San Fran hostel number and giving
us a phone to use. Rosie rang up, and was told 5 minutes later that there was no sign of it. She then, wisely, asked if the bins had been emptied because that's where she thought it may be, and so whoever was on the end of the line went to check again and came back, this time with good news. Even more fortunately, Kieran had stayed in San Francisco so could take it and bring to us in LA.
After we'd recovered from that exciting few minutes, we went down to our room and checked it out. It was an 8 bed room, but with plenty of living space and, as always with HIs, immaculately clean. We put our stuff away, not unpacking completely as we were only there a few nights, and found where the closest Target supermarket was, 30 minutes down 10th, and made our way there. It was nothing short of hot in the sleepy city, and we walked through the leafy suburbs, enjoying the break from the rush and noise of the previous two stops.
We arrived at Target and got our supplies, grabbing a veritable bucket of Diet Coke each while there for $1,
and headed back. Travelling, even short distances it seems, is tiring so we ate, played cards for a couple of hours, and headed downstairs to get some sleep before out early start in the morning.
We got up at 6 on Saturday, as we needed to be at the race centre for 7.15 to pick up our packs. We were, of course, taking part in the Sacramento Color run (sorry Dad but there's no 'U's out here) - 'the happiest 5k ever'. We had a speedy breakfast and left by 7 am, walking down into the downtown, joined by growing throngs of excited and white clad race goers. We picked up our packs of t-shirts and temporary tattoos, then headed to the start line. For about half an hour we stood with the mass of racers, listening to the hype man do his thing on the podium until, finally, we were off.
The race itself was great fun. We walked and run probably in equal measure, as did most of the other runners. The run took us through the lovely old town of the city, and down the wide 7th Street that lead to the impressive White House-esque Capitol building.
We came to several stations along the way, at which volunteers covered the runners in the colour powder and glitter.
When we crossed the finish line we were given our own individual packets, and headed to the main stage where we spent the next couple of hours dancing and covering each other in the colour powder, which was let off by at least 100 people in the crowd in unison when the beat dropped in the music, momentarily creating an opaque cloud of colour.
Finally the party came an end, and we walked back in the midday heat wearing every colour imaginable head to toe. As soon as we arrived at the hostel we showered and put our clothes in for a wash. For at least 5 minutes the shower water ran brown with the coloured dust, until we eventually felt somewhere near clean again. For a couple of hours or so we relaxed, reading or napping after the early morning and all of the excitement of the race.
At about 3pm we headed back out into the heat, and walked the couple of blocks to the Capitol building, which was free to walk around. I fight realise at this
point that Sacramento is the state capital of California, so we spent a quiet but enjoyable couple of hours exploring the offices, halls and conference centres of the domed government building. When we returned it was getting on for 6pm, so we played a couple round of pool in the common room, then cooked our dinners of pasta or noodles or soup etc.. As far as I can remember, the rest of the evening was spent playing cards on one of the long tables of the dining room, until Rosie, Kate and I decided to go out to the Old Town and have a look around. The old town is still set up in the classic Wild West fashion, which bat-wing saloon doors and planked boardwalks. We bought ourselves some Salt-Water taffy and sat eating it by the river as the sun set, then went the long way home through the pretty downtown area.
The next morning, Sunday, we were up at 9am to catch our 11.20 greyhound bus to Los Angeles. We breakfasted and readied our packs, then headed out. The others took the bus, but I walked the half an hour to the terminal to save on the
bus fare. The walk took me out of the city, the heat rising quickly at this point, and into a district that felt as if it was really on the edge of the desert. Out of the downtown, evidently the city is hot and dusty, with wire fences surrounding bare patches of dry grass and wide, silent streets that seem bare without tumbleweeds rolling across them.
I arrived at the terminal after the others, and we waited the short while until we could board. Once on, it was really the same old story. The bus ride, 8 hours in total, seemed trivial compared to what we're used to, and the scenery surrounding - especially as we drew nearer LA - was pretty spectacular. For a few hours after Sacramento the land stayed flat, covered in vineyards and orchards alternating with stretches of yellow, barren wasteland. As we went further south however, these dusty plains began to fold and roll, eventually forming the smooth-lines, dry hills and finally mountains that surround the city. Before we knew it, we were entering the sprawling mass of Los Angeles just as the sun began to set.
The bus terminal was to the south east
of the city centre while our hostel was to the south west, so had to catch a bus then the tube into downtown and out again, pulling up to our stop at Expo and Western in the complete darkness of 9.30pm. We walked the short walk to the hostel - which was a large mansion complex in a clearly fairly poor but not unfriendly neighbourhood. We dumped our bags, sweating in the nighttime warmth, at the the reception which was manned by 4 guys not much older than ourselves, and checked in. We were then walked to the house a short way away where we had a room, as evidently the hostel-owners had a lot of property in the area for short-term and long-term use.
There were 4 guys sharing our house when we arrived - a black guy whose name I can't remember and who left the next day; Henry, a gay American-Mexican of 25; Juan, a 22 year old South African and Kevin, a 23 year Japanese-American for Georgia. For about an hour we cooked some dinner and chatted with our house mates, and quickly realised we were in very good company (but more of that in the
next blog). By 10pm or so we were ready for our beds, two bunks in our own room, so we headed up and readied ourselves for our first night in a new bed, for the last time.
And so here we are. At the last stop of what has turned out to be an incredible journey, with less than a week left to enjoy the sun, sand and city.
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