America 2012

May 2012 12

Day 32 - Monterey CA to NZ

Once you've reached Monterey you're pretty much done with Highway 1. So with Highway 1 behind me I hit the road again for one last drive. I was getting low on time so had to skip Santa Cruz and instead went on 101, through some farm land to start with but very quickly hitting the endless highways, buildings and chain stores that form the Bay Area.

On and on I drove, through Gilroy, San Martin, San Jose, Redwood City, Belmont, Burlingame, Milbrae and finally into San Francisco Internation Airport itself where I joined the dozens of other people dropping off their cars. Final distance? 7007 miles, or 11,200 km!

I trundled into the airport and had about 5 hours to kill before I could check in, so paid the $20 to store my bag and headed for the BART station.

Soon enough one arrived and on I got. BART means Bay Area Regional Transport, and is a pretty nifty system. It's notable in that it is:

semi-automatic, the tr...
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May 2012 12

Day 31 - Carpinteria CA to Monterey CA

Goodbye Carpinteria and hello more highways! Back on the road I was surprised by how New Zealandy the scenery appeared to be.

This could quite easily be somewhere around Banks Peninsula or North Canterbury.

Around 1pm I arrived in San Luis Obispo, which is one of the oldest settlements in California being over 300 years old. It seems quite a nice place, according to the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce it's the "happiest place in America". When I arrived there was a 4 pack of SD70 helpers in the loop sunbathing, but soon after I heard some rumbling and an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train arrived and pulled into the loop.

I wandered down and admired the sudden hive of activity.

It is quite a pleasant station with palm trees and a quiet sleepy dog feel to it. I stood around the cab car and soon the new engineer arrived and settled in...

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May 2012 12

Day 30 - Barstow CA to Carpinteria CA

Final day for some of us. We loaded up the car and hit the road and headed for LA. Within minutes the traffic picked up and it was getting heavy even by the edge of Cajon Pass. Part way down Cajon I took a detour to check out some of the railroading, but a confusing mishmash of roads and Private Crossing signs and the like made for little progress. One day I will master this pass.

On we pressed under boring gray skies and soon arrived in LA itself and met its atrocious relentless traffic.

We stopped at the La Brea Tar Pits, one of LA's highest rated tourist attractions but balked at their $11 entry fee. Instead we wandered around, looked at some dirty looking pools and piles of mud and went and got lunch.

One of the excavation pits at La Brea.

Lunch was delicious mexican affair, one of the best I've had yet.

On towards the airport we headed. On the way, and I'm not kidding here, but on the way we passed an oil field. ...

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May 2012 12

Day 29 - Flagstaff AZ to Barstow CA

The eagerly awaited snow storm that had been predicted the night before petered out and there was just a thin dusting being blown around by the wind. When we rose the roads had already been plowed.

We headed off to find breakfast and decided to try IHOP, the International House Of Pancakes. We lucked out and arrived on National Pancake Day which meant a free stack of pancakes for every customer! We ordered our means and were treated to a very yummy feast of many many pancakes. Mine were especially yum, although the grated "cheese" had a distinctly uranium yellow shade, which made me wonder on the origin and composition of it. Maybe it really was some kind of nuclear by-product??

Having finally finished our nuclear by-products and omlettes (they were actually very good) we hit the road again. We hit the 40 and headed west. At Seligman we pulled in for a breather and some caught a train pulling into town, where it stopped for a crew change. Some very very gray lightin...

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Mar 2012 11

Day 28 - Grand Canyon

Off on an adventure today, the Grand Canyon! First stop though was breakfast at the Downtown Diner where we learned that if we'd had breakfast a couple of streets over the tax rate would be a few percent less; yep, tax rates vary even within the same town.

Then we headed off on highway 180 west out of town which is a small highway snaking out arond the San Franciscos (the volcanic range that Flagstaff nestles around). We passed through lots of ponerosa pine forest, and then quite unexpectedly emerged into a large meadow. There was a stiff breeze blowing and big clouds scooting across the sky but it looked fantastic.

Onwards we drove and joined the main road to the Grand Canyon. Arrived at gates and paid our park entrance fee then found a park and went looking for the canyon.

You'd think something as big as the Grand Canyon should be easy to find but it took us a wee bit of hunting to actually find, not helped by the fa...

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