Friday, January 11, 2008

Thelma and Louise!

"Road trip!"

no one in the US seems bothered by long drives - perhaps because the country is so big, but more I guess because the roads are good. To travel from Phoenix to Seal Beach in a day (about 350 miles each way) is not a problem; with long straight roads it is easy (we took Route 10 then went down into Seal Beach, South of Los Angeles). But the traffic! Five lanes of road each way and you still sit bumper to bumper (or should that be fender to fender?).

Along the way we saw a real change in the desert scenery, from the cactus laden rocky Arizona desert to the sandy and scrubby bush covered desert of California. I saw some amazing hawks and as we came into Los Angeles County - the haze of the pollution was thick and tainted the air. But the mountain scenery was amazing, and when we eventually hit Seal Beach (we took plenty of stops along the way - no hurry) the sun was almost ready to set.

We checked in at the Paradise Inn (neat little hotel) and headed straight for the beach.

We watched the sun creep towards the horizon then dip down as if it had suddenly made up its mind to set. We wandered round the town briefly then had a meal at a fish restaurant. We were served by the same waitress who had served Nadine and her family three years before! The fish was nice, the potato was cold, but the wine was excellent.

Back to the hotel and a good sleep, but my - Nadine snores! Hey, so do I. I only know she snored as I played a bit of guitar and she promptly fell asleep. I have that effect on people!

The next day we went back down to the beach and I got to dip my toes in the Pacific. It was cold! A bright day, sunny but not warm enough to swim. The surfers wore wet suits, and the fishermen on the pier were wearing coats not just tee shirts. It wasn't cold by UK standards, but this was winter in California.

I talked to some fisherman - they catch 'anything'. Flatfish? I said I used to catch mackeral. 'Yeah, we catch Spanish mackeral, use them as bait.' Spanish mackeral? Do they have an accent? Another fisherman we talked to told us how early in the morning the dolphins swim past, on their way down to Huntingdon beach to feed, then come back in the evening. Out past Catalina island (which was hidden by a sea haze) you can see blue whales.

We did some more shopping, including a trip to a candy store and a book store, then finished a lazy day with dinner at Ruby's diner on the end of the pier. Lots of bright red and a burger, fries and salad that was ample for the two of us to share. Good food, amazing views over the sea, and polite and friendly service.

We ended up the day with a drink in O'Malleys Irish bar. Heaving - barely enough room to stand so it was one drink each, a wander round the shops (they were open late) and then back to the hotel again for another good sleep.

The following morning we headed back to Arizona, but not until we'd done some ... shopping! I went into a music shop but as it seemed to specialise in ukeleles, I didn't make any purchases.

My visit to California was an amazing drive through the countryside and a very relaxed couple of days at Seal Beach 'off season'. I liked it. Yeah - I could go back there again.

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