Monday, 16 June 2014

On the Road: Day 2, San Luis Obispo -> Santa Barbara -> Santa Monica

I awoke warm and docile in my little, red ten this morning.

Already Sam was awake, ostensibly calm about losing his mobile phone the night before, but every now and then his eyes gave away his utter disappointment at the conclusion that it had probably been stolen while he’d been in the pool, blissfully unaware. He borrowed my tablet to look into getting a greyhound bus back to Santa Cruz.

Svenja and I sat at the picnic bench in the early morning sunlight eating common food raisin bran and warm milk that sat in the car all night out of our poorly rinsed out Tuppaware boxes. I think ACE has made us very easy to please when it comes to food, because to be very honest, I thought it was delicious. Can’t really go wrong with raisin bran though.

We piled everything back in the car including ourselves and set off in search of the Greyhound bus station. We drove for miles along this long, straight road with stretches of farm land either side of us following Sam’s hilarious hand drawn directions before finally giving in and asking for directions. The Greyhound bus station didn't exist anymore.

Following a second hopeless hand drawn map we went in search of Amtrak.  As Sam bought his ticket to Santa Cruz, Svenja and I stretched our legs climbing over the old railway bridge, soaking in sun and discussing the suicide rates at San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Once retrieving our Sam we spent far too long looking for Starbucks to shamelessly use their free WiFi to find somewhere to spend the night in L.A. After an overload of caffeine and social network indulgence we bought some apples, courgettes and a bar of dark chocolate from Trader Joes, dropped Sam off at the train station and hit the road. We had a girly moment and listened to a Taylor Swift track – or ten.

Our music tastes both match in their variety and our joint love for blasting the music so loud the glass vibrates and we can scream along has made the many hours of driving in the sun feel like our very own movie, and we both yell and laugh with glee at the beautiful scenery and sign posts with names we recognize from T.V, songs and movies and every time we see an American flag we yell ‘Murica!

We discuss the different memories we have attached to certain songs from different points in our lives and laugh at how similar they are despite being worlds apart. And together we attach new memories to these songs, and laugh at how perfectly the lyrics match certain people we encountered here on our travels… (Beautiful Liar - Beyonce and Shakira)

We stopped for lunch by getting lost down some winding road that led us to a golden beach (of course) just outside Santa Barbara and walked to the corner of the cliff face to see what was hiding around there before sitting and making cheese sandwiches with more common food and Svenja’s pocket knife. There was definitely more Sand than Wich but free food has to be very poor to actually displease.

We ate our apples, shared some dark chocolate, discussed the Santa Barbara shootings then sunk into the sand and soaked in the sun.

I went to a little café for a cold drink and grabbed a handful of the free sachets of ketchup, ranch and mustard, just in case we get really desperate.

Each time we get back in our car we find we love it even more than before, probably because we always expect it to be missing or broken or to find the whole thing was just a figment of our imaginations. We hit the road again with our eyes looking out for L.A.

As we crossed the county line into L.A. we both yelled but before we could even take in the momentum of the occasion we were gliding into the gorgeous Malibu. Our first glimpses of glamour were hypnotic, completely contrasting with the quirky eccentricities of Santa Cruz. Tall, bendy palm trees in symmetrical lines like patterns drawn on the landscape silhouetted against the setting sun and bronzed beauties carrying surfboards and an effortless coolness strutted by. Tucked away on the jagged hilltops castle-like mansions and square futuristic silver boxes of houses glinted and winked at us as their vast Windows watched the sun dropping into the ocean from their positions of power up above.

For miles rolling waves seemed to crash so close to the highway I felt like I should have been able to reach out the window and feel the surf.

We took one more spontaneous stop on the side of the road where the bushy grass glowed golden and in the distance dozens of surfers were bobbing in the water, We watched as they jumped up triumphantly and glided on top of the rolling waves before a sudden crash would consume them.

As we drove into Santa Monica, the sudden appearance of tall, metallic buildings, slick, pristine restaurants and far too many fashionable gorgeous people lit up by an overhead sea of fairylights, it contrasted so much with our previous travels around California where we have been surrounded by mountains and wilderness rather than men and women.

We had managed to book 2 beds in a hostel right near the pier and 3rd Street. After snaking our way up a multi-storey parking lot and saying goodnight to our precious baby BLG we hit the pier to soak in the salty, fishy air and sparkling fairylights.

Coming to America and suddenly being too young to drink has been very bizarre. But rather than being bitter we reveled in watching all the people in their fancy clothes heading to the bars, creating little stories in our minds of where there night will lead them.

On the pier we became star struck by a Bubbagump Shrimp restaurant which inevitably led to lots of ‘Run Forrest run’ and ‘life is like a box of chocolates’. Sometimes it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the madness here and you forget that it’s just a movie, you start to believe you've really stepped into this world where these characters you've grown up watching truly exist. 

But then again, real life people are varied and interesting (and crazy) enough. In the wild we had to watch out for lions and snakes and bears (oh my!), here we suddenly had to be aware of a much scarier animal, human beings. As soon as we stepped out the hostel, one man asked ‘got any spare change?’ to which I politely said no, I was then demanded ‘well, got a boyfriend?’. I mean, I would like American citizenship but I think dating the first beggar who asks me might be a bit desperate.

Even though we were weary from driving we headed for 3rd, a beautiful old fashioned, pedestrianized street lined with trees, fairylights and a dolphin statue perfect for riding on.

Finally, with our last ounces of being arsed we search through the Urban Outfitter’s sale. We tried on dresses we can't afford and that will never fit in our backpacks anyway and took photos, winding up the already irate shop assistants. In order to avoid spending money neither of us had brought our purses out but even then we were totally incapable at resisting the allure of a brand new pretty dress and asked the girls to hold the dresses for us so we could run back and get our money, to which she rather brashly replied 'well, we'll be closed', so I said 'what time do you close?', '11', 'oh wow, so late! Well what time is it now?' 'five to eleven'... We couldn't believe how late it was and that we were still stood around in daft dresses driving these workers crazy.

The girl asked us for our names and despite pulling a face which blatantly revealed she could not understand our accents at all she didn't ask us to repeat and said she'd hold the dresses for us.

Finally, we set off back to our hostel, making a slight detour to sit in a busy bus shelter when we noticed a group of men following us down one dark street. We sat in the safety of surrounding people and waited until they'd walked far away. 

Our room was already dark, the 4 other girls in here are in bed, but not asleep. Eerie, pale lights are glowing on just about every face, as in the sudden quiet, lonely hours of night everyone scrolls down their phone or iPad getting their fix of friends and family before switching off.

I think my actual writing is loud and scribbly in comparison to their mute methods of communication...


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