Wednesday, April 01, 2009

California adventure:LAX to Santa Barbara

So, I left you as I was blow drying my hair in the airport bathroom. More fun & games ensued when I went through airport security: I’d love to know why a pot of Marmite is considered a security risk when they allowed my curling tongs in my hand baggage – which could be used heated up on an aircraft, as Virgin American have v civilized power sockets beneath the seats. Fortunately I always travel with two pots of Marmite, so disaster has been averted.

At LAX, was astonished to see my 70lb suitcase was first off the carousel. However I’d like to say a big F**K you to the gentleman in skinny jeans to my left, who watched without helping as I lugged it off the conveyor belt, dropped it on my feet, tripped and fell sprawling across it. I dazzle myself with my grace and elegance, really I do.

I’m happy to say though that everything perked up from then on in. Lovely Kevin at Atwest Car Rental managed to find me at the terminal, although upon reflection it wasn’t that hard to spot the lost-looking blonde head to toe in very un-LA black perched precariously on top of a pile of luggage (black) on the curbside. He upgraded me to a Chevy Aveo, so white that I almost got snow blindness checking it for scratches. It may not be a glamorous set of wheels, but I learnt my lesson in Miami last time I rented a convertible: it was so hot that we sizzled like bacon on a griddle whenever we lowered the roof.

I’ve never used Sat Nav before, (I’m generally a holding the map upside down at the wheel kind of navigator), but my shiny new Tom Tom One got me on to the 405 like a dream. Unfortunately I hadn’t computed that it would take the most direct route, not the prettiest. After sitting in rush hour traffic for 45 minutes, I naughtily re-programmed it with one hand on the steering wheel to divert via Santa Monica, Malibu and the coast road to Santa Barbara.

There was a moment where I drove through a tunnel on the freeway and exited to a blinding vista of sunlight, ocean and mountain, which rammed home that I was no longer in Kansas. The scenery on the two hour drive runs from the back of staggering beach houses backed on to the road in Malibu to vertical rock faces on the right. At points the ocean drops off sharply to the left and at others wide swathes of beach and clapboard coastguard stations entice the traveller to stop the car to run screaming with joy onto the sand. (I didn’t – this time anyway). Further on, at Oxnard, the right hand side mountain vista fades out to acres of green agriculture and signs offering cheap strawberries and flowers.

I made it to Santa Barbara as the sun was setting and ate my bodyweight in supper.

More later.