Egg toast breakfast, tea and a chat and then off to Stinson Beach. Good rough surf but still less than I expected.
Set off for Sacramento and arrived at nightfall. Registered at the KOA there and then drove downtown. Dead and uninteresting typical small town. Ate at McDonald’s and then sacked out.
Left without paying and got a new muffler put on ($50). Took all morning.
Berkeley next, and the University of California. Amazing facilities – superb. All sorts of shops – electrical goods, cards, jewellery and clothes. 15-plus designs of T-shirts etc. Recreation centre – pin tables, pool tables and an x-lane bowling alley.
DB looked up some relations in Berkeley and we spent the afternoon and evening there. DB amazed us with his bilingual ability. Drank beer and watched Star Trek. Good interesting meal – curry, chapatis etc. Slept on the floor of the bedroom.
Drove into San Francisco today – up and down the precipitous streets we drove, until finally we got a parking space. The streets were really packed for a Sunday. Walked past a pyramidal earthquake-proof building but for the most part the office blocks were quite short, reasonable buildings. All the older buildings seem to be painted either pink or green, or else some other pastel colour.
Looked around Chinatown – streets crammed with people and cars and rubbish piled up. Eating places and souvenir shops. Even pagoda style phone boxes. Cable-car terminus: black God Squad guy shouting a sermon at disinterested crowd queueing for cable car. Lonely sound of jazz clarinet busker further on.
Turned out that the family in the Dormobile next to our tent were English – the guy was from Birmingham, his wife from Ireland. They had been here for nine years, mostly in Canada. Had a long chat with him – it was good to hear an English accent once more. Told us of his experiences with GPs. He once gashed his right hand and his wife drove him to the doctors. She fainted on the surgery floor as her husband, holding his bleeding hand in the air, wrote a cheque for the medical bill with his left hand before the doctor would attend to it. He knew of people who would be paying bills off for the rest of their lives despite insurance. Stories like that makes you realise how good the NHS really is.
In the morning it was a question of moving out as soon as possible before the site officials got round to us. We drove further up the beach and found Refugio Beach. There was a $1.50 charge to get on – capitalist swine. The weather had been cloudy but the sun soon came out and so it was on with swimming trunks. We spent the afternoon lazing in the sun, the palm trees swaying behind us, the Pacific rolling gently in before us.
The breakers were really pathetic but there were one or two people with surfboards. They would paddle out into the sea and then go through the motions of surfing – kneeling on the board, paddling furiously towards the beach and standing up. Of course they just fell right off again because there were no waves.
Once again, by about 8.30 the tent was too hot to sleep in so we set out for the only gas station in the vicinity. The one pump had a sign on it – NO GAS. Bit of a blow. Bought some milk at the shop adjoining it and got talking to the one customer there. He offered to give us a couple of gallons so we followed him to the summer camp where he worked. He sold us five gallons and threw in three quarts of milk (not in the tank).
We went all the way back to LA and Hollywood. The pavements were inlaid with brass stars and every other one had the name of a superstar inlaid in it – actors, producers and singers from the golden era of Hollywood. Went to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where the courtyard was indented with the hand and foot prints of famous stars. Roy Rogers’ were there alongside Trigger’s hoof prints and John Wayne’s boot prints were accompanied simply by a fist print. Continue reading
Today was spent driving all day in the intense unpleasant stuffy heat through boring miles of desert. Highlight: passing through the Nevada border into the promised land California. We stopped at Barstow on Route 15 for the inevitable Big Mac. They had two train coaches for additional seating-McDonald’s McDiners. Next stop was San Bernadino but we saw nothing of the city, we just decided where exactly in LA to head for next and then got on the appropriate freeway.
We stopped somewhere in Los Angeles to get a street map. After last night’s two hours’ sleep no one was capable of making decisions about where to go to spend the night. The streets were populated with Spanish or Mexican people, and the news stands sold many foreign-language newspapers. Continue reading
Staggered out of the tent at about 9am dripping with sweat. Went to the KOA shop and bought breakfast – a quart of milk – and then set about writing to family. Also wrote the Salt Lake City postcard to G Walton.
We hit the road once again and whiled away the miles writing and sleeping. The latter was difficult because the temperature reached 106° and there was no escape. The wind rushing in from the windows was like the air coming out of a fan heater. Our water bottle was too hot to drink from and the sweat trickled down our backs like water.
Went past Lake Powell, and through Page. Roadside stalls began to appear as we drove nearer to the Grand Canyon. These were manned by solitary Indians and all sold exactly the same – beads.
We entered the Grand Canyon National Park. Must admit that the Grand Canyon was not as breathtaking as I had anticipated. Admittedly it was colossal and it was a hell of a rut to have been dug out by the trickling stream we could see at the bottom. Still, after the initial view I think we overdid it by driving round and stopping at every scenic viewpoint to have another look at a slightly different section of the canyon.
Eventually left and resumed journey. Through Bedrock City and on to Route 66 (“I get my kicks on Route 66”). Went to Denny’s for supper. Waitress warned us the water tasted funny but we couldn’t tell. John managed to avoid paying by going to the rest rooms before paying. On emerging he realised he could walk straight out. Camped at Ash Fork.
Drove virtually the length of Utah today. Fierce black thunderstorms in the distance. Arrived at Zion National Park at dusk. Went for a walk. Fantastic outcrops of rock all around us like we were in some wide deep shaft. As we walked along the trail, frogs would occasionally leap from a path into the swampy safety of the canyon floor. Came to the end of the trail – the river itself. Possible to go further but we would have had to wade past some rocks.
Went back to the car and entered the camping area. Dark by now and hard to find a camping spot. Settled for a very bumpy one and pitched tent. Treacherous route to restrooms through scrub riddled with holes and ditches. Of course I had to plunge my foot in a puddle. Huge bug sitting on toilet seat. Hoped that none would find their way into tent.