Monday, May 18, 2009

The post where I am made bereft by giving up my car

It's hard to compute that today is my last full day in California. I fly tomorrow to London for three weeks, then head back back home to Manhattan. I've been away for 48 days now.

Apart from all the obvious things (climate, people, environment), I'm going to miss my rental car. After two years of car-free living in New York, it's been odd relying on a car to get me around. And, because I've been on the road continually, I've pretty much been living out the back of it too.

Although I've been trying to clean it out for the past week, it's still full of junk. SPF50 in the driver door for those searing traffic jams when you feel as though your arms might fry, emergency snacks, endless bottles of water, tangled cables & their gadgets to make long distance driving bearable (iPod, GPS), guidebooks & flyers, spare high heels (I'm a fashion editor, after all), sunhats, hiking gear, swimming stuff, lots of sand, and just endless crud.

After my first rental disaster - the car engine blew up, stranding me in the middle of nowhere - this Toyota Corolla arrived to replace the lesser Chevy Aveo I had booked. Apart from losing a day's work and having to spend a night in in San Simeon, I figure the upgrade was worthwhile. I've now driven over 3500miles since I arrived at LAX on 31st March and it's been a pleasure.
>Toyota Corolla whiteThis was taken on the mountain pass between Big Sur and Hunter Liggett Army Base. (Terrifying.)

Of course, with all this relentless driving through terrain ranging from desert (Coachella & Palm Springs) to muddy hills (Marin Headlands), the car was staggeringly filthy, with little handprints all over it. I really could care less, but I was starting to get dirty from it, and LA with its bizarre plethora of carwashes (ever heard of the drought people?) makes you feel pretty self conscious in a dirty vehicle.Toyota Corolla white So, when I spotted this carwash in Cambria on my way back down south from San Francisco, I couldn't resist.

 Cambria CarwashOf course, how could I predict that I would get stuck in the bloody thing and have to be rescued by the guffawing manager?