The long haul South.

Oregon behind me, progress down the 101 was fast and picturesque. I soon ran off the edges of my two afore mentioned and over-priced maps, but quickly worked out if I kept the ocean on my right, and the desert on my left, San Diego would probably pop up in a couple of days or so.

Through Tsunami evacuation zones and long unbroken stretches of coastline we went (myself and the car, that is), stopping only for gas, food, and the occasional photograph. It’s actually quite surprising how much you eat in an 18 hour day of driving, especailly with no one to talk to and no functioning radio to provide effective distraction. Dinner was had on the beach while a rather uninspiring sunset carried on over the ocean. However, I still had good miles to make before sleeping, so didn’t dwell too long before cranking up the headlights and making more south.

Attempting to drive the entire west coast of America in two days turned out to be no mean feat, so the driving continued until about 1am, when sleepiness and sheer boredom of dark roads got the better of me, and I pulled into a small town, and parked up on an innocuous piece of tarmac tucked away in a corner for a few hours sleep.

Daylight and 6am came around unnecessarily quickly, and the dawn sun soon revealed my ambiguous parking spot was in the fact the fire station forecourt. Luckily, there had been no fires in the night, or I imagine I would have had a quite abrupt and loud wake up call. The last 3 chocolate chip cookies (universal food for any time, any place, in any climate) were enjoyed, my sleep-induced condensation cleared off the windscreen, and San Francisco laid firmly in my sights as a lunchtime target.

Target achieved, a route through the Carmel Valley was chosen, as it turned out friends of mine, Kit and Charlotte, happened to be staying there for the weekend. Other than having the pleasure of seeing them briefly (although I imagine my own company wasn’t half as enjoyable being sleep deprived and slightly delirious from several days of non-stop travelling), this gave me a reason to drive through the heart of the valleys, which I was otherwise not at all aware of the existence of. While a 1985 pickup truck with dubious driving characteristics would never be my vehicle of choice for such roads (craving my Honda VFR800 and a full set of leathers…), the views and scenery more than made up for the lack of braking and corning ability I was otherwise experiencing.

After that it is relatively straightforward process getting to San Diego, with a sharply increasing amount of traffic being the only real impediment. This begins on the approach to LA, and then continues to thicken at an alarming rate, yet additional road surface is not supplied to cater for this increase. The result is a large number of cars, travelling very close together, at very high speed. With the entire west coast of the US now behind, that last stretch past and beyond LA was by the far the most unenjoyable driving I’ve done in a long, long time, and I was quite glad to arrive in San Diego shortly before midnight. This arrival was further improved by being greeting by two nice French chaps, a cabin aboard an 83′ sailing yacht, a plate of freshly prepared food, and a bottle of red wine. The cherry vodka that followed the red wine was positively offensive, but that’s another story. Seattle to San Diego completed, ready for the next adventure aboard the Stella Serena sailing yacht…


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