Up the Pacific Coast Highway

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September 4th 2012
Published: September 10th 2012
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I got up at 8am and phoned up Enterprise Rent-A-Car to get them to pick me up so I could collect my car. However they took 40 min and when I arrived I had to wait a futher 20 min before i could get my car. Then when I finally had the car, a nice Toyota Yaris, I had to work out how to drive an automatic and how to drive on the right hand side of the road!!

I mananged to get back to the house, following the rules of the road and stopping at every bloody stop sign, and packed up my gear. I however realised that I had left my hat in Jan's car so would have to go via Viewpoint on my way out of LA! I grabbed a Starbucks and planned my route before heading out of Sierra Madre at 11am. I then managed to get confused and get on the wrong side of the highway so had to get off again to turn around! On the way out to Calabasas I past a sign to Balboa and remembered the address for a cousins house, that Barbara had given me in NZ, but as I had missed the junction I decided to come back after getting my hat. I started off along the 6 lane highway but wasnt used to being this far to the left of the car so at first was drifting to the right and hitting the cat's eyes but eventually got the hang of it.

However I then switched off and missed both Calabasas exits and ended up having to go to Malibu canyon to turn around again! Was not a good start to my journey!! I eventually got my hat and then decided to take my non functioning SIM card back to the shop. The manager refused to refund the amount but after I complained and he saw that it hadnt been registered to me he refunded the amount. However he kept saying I should have called the store and not T-Mobile, to be honest he was just trying to cover his ass and talking shit! So I headed off to Gillian Albert's house, a first cousin of Kim, Sheryl and Julie in Napier. The route I took wasnt the best and instead of going back up the highway I went through the residential area which took ages! I eventually got there at around 1pm and luckily she was in and even more luckily she opened he gate to a complete stranger, thinking I was someone coming for a meeting!

At first she was a bit apprehensive to let me in as she had never met or heard from me before, I would act the same. In the end we had a great chat and she showed me around her house and pictures of her children, I looked similar to her son! Her mother is a sibling of Barbara and Terry Hamilton-Jenkins and she still lives in England. Gillian, previously a nursery nurse like Mum, moved to LA in her early 20s to work as a nanny for the rich and famous, at one time working for Danny DeVito! She told me that her family were heading to England next summer so I gave them my info so she could get in touch.

Finally at 2pm I headed out of LA! The journey up the coast was beautiful, the first town was Ventura which had a lovely pier stretching out to the horizon and all around there were rolling hills that were basically sand dunes covered in grass! The sea was a gorgeous blue and the weather was great and unlike the coast road in NZ I actually could listen to the radio!!

When the coastal highway 101 cut inland I decided to stay on the more remote Highway 1 which took me out past Vandenburg AFB and through the country town of Lompoc, which had an old school drive in movie theatre. On this route i bypassed Santa Maria and through fields of cabbage that gave off an interesting smell... There were loads of hispanic people working in the fields which had portable loos in them so that they could work all day. The road became quite narrow and again I was drifting to the right to avoid the tractors. Disaster struck just outside the town of Guadulupe as I slipped off the road and heard a bang! I drove on for a bit but then the flat tyre light turned on...

I drove through the town and then pulled over to check my front right tyre, it was flat as a pancake! Luckily I had full coverage so called up the assistance line. The lady said they would send out someone to change the tyre and put on the temporary spare but as this wouldn't last very long and I would have to drive slowly I suggested I change the tyre myself and then find a garage in the town. I had seen a garage when I drove through the town so went back hoping they were open. A friendly hispanic man shook my hand and said in broken english he would fix it. He took off the tyre and I saw the dent i had put in the hub! The man took out a big mallet and knocked it back into shape before blowing it up, taking a sip of beer and replacing it onto my car. The lady i spoke to on the phone had said to pay for any repairs and then claim it back but the mechanic didn't charge me a penny! What a nice guy!!

On my way up the coast I noticed that I was travelling along a historic route that Juan Baptista de Anza had taken in the 1770s which eventually ended in him locating the San Francisco Mission. I arrived at a small beach town called Piso at around 6pm and decided to stay here for the sunset as I was only a few miles south of SLO. I went for a swim in the sea to pass some time. It was cold but very refreshing and enjoyable after my day! After wondering the beach for a bit I dried off and got dressed before heading down the pier to watch the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean. It was beautiful and as the last drop disappeared a dolphin rose up out of the sea, it was magical!

I then headed to the Apple Farm Inn in SLO and was delighted by my two free cookies on arrival and the size of my room, with a four-poster bed! I shwered and went down the town to the Firestone Grill, a college sports bar, where I had a tri-tip beef sandwich and several local ales whilst watching the SF Giants play baseball. I had a great evening and after kicking out time stumbled back to my bed!


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