I really liked Pismo Beach. It’s a cool little town on the way to LA and we stayed at a fabulous beachfront hotel, waking up to views of the ocean. When we went for breakfast, Phil had his very first motel waffle experience, which surprised me no end as he’s been living here for nearly two years…
Free motel breakfasts are, on the whole a bit shit for vegans, so I had instant oatmeal again. Apparently, the Americans have figured out how to remove virtually all the dietary fibre from instant oatmeal through some vile industrial process. Whatever it is, it doesn’t make it taste any better, that’s for sure.
We didn’t linger over breakfast and got on our way by 8am. It was about 170 miles to LA and we wanted to get to Santa Monica Pier by lunchtime. We took a combination of Highway 101 the Chumash Highway and Highway 1, stopping for Organic coffee and vegan donuts at AssWholeFoods.
Phil had mentioned a place he’d stumbled on during his SF to LA bicycle trip several years ago called Point Mugu. It’s a display outside an airforce base of a whole load of different aircraft and missiles that you can wander round and gawp at the US taxpayer dollar being spaffed away on big splody toys for bombing the shit out of countries too poor to fight back.
They did at least have the presence of mind to give them all silly names:
Blasting along the coast roads was bloody brilliant and when we stopped for gas, I connected up my Bluetooth earbuds and put Run DMC on my iPhone for the cruise into LA.
Santa Monica Pier is the end of Route 66 and a terrible tourist trap, but I loved it nonetheless. We took some time to park up and stroll the length of the thing, past the inevitable Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant and the vendors selling refined sugar products. I posed with the sign:
We did a selfie:
In the end, we decided not to eat at the pier and pushed off eastwards for LAX where I had an appointment with a shady drug deal and the start of my journey.
(That, by the way, is a Bro Hug. I am reliably informed that this is how drug dealers and drug smugglers greet each other.)
Phil was terribly indulgent of my peculiar need to visit an otherwise unlovely airport perimeter road, just to say I’d been there and to take some photos. It’s where this trip kind of begins – and if you don’t know why, go and watch Easy Rider.
From my internet research, the scenes in the film were shot in 1969 at the end of runways 25L. I was aiming to stop at the side of the road and do this bit, but in the end, we did remarkably well and happened upon some kind of visitor museum with a car park and a legitimate reason to be stooging around in a place where the police are on high alert for suspicious individuals conducting drug deals and the like.
We shot some video footage for my film project and I was delighted that Phil had brought along a packet of his Sainsbury’s custard powder stash to take the place of several big bags of Columbian naughty salt. Knowing how fond Phil is of custard and how hard it is to find in North America, I was quite touched.
Sadly, the price we paid for all the touristing at the pier and the fannying about being an Instagram idiot at the airport was that we left for Mojave in the full on LA rush hour. We made for the fastest route that Google could offer us, which turned out to be six lane blacktop, jam packed with commuter traffic.
I can say two good things about the hour and a half of riding that followed. Firstly, we went lane-splitting in the LA rush hour and didn’t die. They have a pretty nifty high-occupancy vehicle lane on the freeway, into which a single-occupancy motorcycle is allowed and when it was moving, we took full advantage of this privilege.
The second good thing about the mayhem of the freeway was that if led us to Santa Clarita and a wonderful road through the Castaic Lake State Park. First, we climbed into the hills, then descended through the prairie and eventually, we came out into the full on Mojave Desert, complete with miles upon miles of straight road, heat haze and telegraph poles as far as the eye could see.
Google told us that we would arrive in Mojave at 8pm if we got a crackle on (yes, there’s 4G in the desert, actually…) so we wound it on and kept the hammer down. I was still wearing my sunglasses as the sun was setting and slightly concerned that the light was going to give out before we arrived, leaving me with a vision problem. Not insurmountable, but it would have been ten minutes buggering about by the side of the road, fitting a clear lens to my goggles.
In the end, we pulled into the inevitable Motel 6 just as it was getting dark and I snapped this photo of my filthy, desert-battered face:
Before we checked in, we hit up a local supermarket for hummus, avo and pitta because we were too shagged out to go and find a restaurant. Besides, we’re both of the opinion that Denny’s isn’t actually food and we really wanted a shower, some vegetables, a cold beer and fast WiFi.
I’m sitting here in my pants, cooling down after a long shower. Cheers!