Santa Monica, California: the last staging post of our 2019 Road Trip!

It was still overcast and somewhat cool, by recent standards, as we set off for our final hotel of the road trip. We were off to Santa Monica, not just to revisit the pier where we ended our Route 66 road trip, but to watch the sun go down and take things at a rather more leisurely pace than on our previous, somewhat rushed, visit. And on that relaxed theme we decided to enjoy the Pacific highway and see some of the other towns and beaches along the way.
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Our first experience was Ventura, another Californian coastal town. Like so many, it has a busy Main Street and plenty of parking. It was a bit early in our journey to think about a coffee stop, so we wandered off the main highway in search the coastal road. Our wandering took us to Oxnard where we picked up the signs once more for Highway 1 and there we were, back amongst the rugged seascapes of this famous road.
Soon the cars became faster and smarter, with a smattering of Ferraris amongst the Corvettes. We soon saw why….we were in Malibu and there was another famous pier. Canyon Park, with its inland mountains, offered views of what we assumed to be Santa Monica across the curve in the coast. It was, and soon we were on familiar territory. Our hotel was not in a part of Santa Monica where we had ventured before, so the sat nav and keen eyes were needed on these busy roads. Success….we negotiated crossing in front of at least three lanes of traffic to access the hotel’s garage and we were ready to unpack for the last time.
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Ventura – and thoughts of ‘Ventura Highway’ by America.
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Ventura – to the sea!
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Ventura mural.
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We always take our Rainbow with us – but this was already in Ventura.

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You can see the attraction of a Malibu beach house!
The day was young and the sun was out, so wasting no further time we found there was a bus just around the corner from the hotel which would take us into downtown Santa Monica. Although we didn’t really know where to get off, we took our chance with a potential stop, found the beach and strolled to the pier. Nothing had changed in the intervening 3 years but we enjoyed it as if it was a totally new experience. I still marvelled at the beaches on either side, we ate hot dogs from one of the stalls and wandered into the coffee shop where we had enjoyed coffee and cake previously. And so we spent a delightful afternoon, full of music, fun, sun, old memories and with new ones now added.
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Wandering back to find the appropriate bus stop, we walked along Sunset Boulevard and put it on the list for further exploration the following day. In the meantime, I must mention dinner. We researched, naturally, and found a family owned restaurant which received great reviews about a mile from the hotel. Our walk there found us approaching head-on a man who was very high on I know not what. He was shouting, gesticulating and weaving about all over the place. Just take a deep breath and keep walking! Carolyn was not concerned and we passed safely by but then I worried that a young lady and her mother were also about to meet him. We made sure they had safely got by before turning off to the excellent restaurant. The journey back (with Carolyn carrying left over pizza in a box) was by now on very dark streets with lots of similar guys to the one we had encountered earlier. As we neared our hotel, two of them were sitting in the shadows. With aplomb, Carolyn offered her pizza, which was gratefully received, and after a quick conversation we were once more at the hotel. Phew! We had been perfectly safe in a respectable area but it turned out there was a hostel for those in need on the next block.
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…another famous pier. Malibu.

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Carolyn’s Curios and Curiosities

Santa Monica: the last staging post of our 2019 Road Trip!

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(As an aside, I can’t think of ‘Monica’ without thinking of my cousin who played a mouth organ – we called her ‘Our Monica’! #sorry)

So, we set out on the last mileage of what was planned as a 2652 mile Road Trip from New Orleans to Los Angeles via Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. The Yosemite loop from Fresno added some of the miles but was very well worth it. Fabulous scenery and a wonderful experience.

Today’s ‘hop’ was relatively short (86 miles) so we extended it by veering off I101 by taking the more scenic and iconic Highway 1 which skirts the coast and, in parts, is known as the Pacific Highway. We’d driven cross country a little first but down Highway 1 we were determined to travel. However,… there are breaks in the road and our attempts to stick to the route were frustrated by it not being there! It was reminiscent, as so many aspects of our Road Trips are, of the Route 66 journey where the road just disappeared from time to time. Great fun, though.

We’d driven North on Highway 1 a few years ago on the way to San Francisco but never Southwards. The difference? Americans drive on the right side which is the wrong side for Brits. Coming South, we were closer to the cliff edges and the Pacific Ocean for the very best views and the occasional stopping places.

Highway 1 was designated such in 1964 as part of the renaming of American Highways but parts of the road go back to the 1930s. It is designated as an All-American Road but today was our turn. And, to cap our return to Route 66, our hotel is on Route 66 itself (aka called here the corner of the famous Santa Monica Boulevard and 20th Street).

In the U.K., we sometimes ignore the pervasiveness of American culture on us. American music, for example, has been part of my upbringing and when I saw Ventura on the map, I remembered Ventura Highway by the band America; California Dreamin’ written by John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas; Route 66, of course, sung by so many people (my favourite still is the Nat King Cole version although Chuck Berry’s is close); and,… possibly one of my lift-up favourites, featuring Santa Monica Boulevard, ‘All I Wanna Do’ by Sheryl Crow with, for me, a classic sing-along chorus: 🎼🎶🎤

“’Cause all I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I’m not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I’m not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
Until the sun comes up over
Santa Monica Boulevard”

Well, tomorrow morning, we’ll be doing just that – watching the sun come up over the Santa Monica Boulevard and, of course, having some (more) fun.

(As an anecdote, I decided to wear the same Route 66 T-shirt today as I’d worn in Santa Monica on our first Road Trip. Both smiling!)

Remembering our first Road Trip along Route 66 four years ago! Such fun! And, we planned it to end our 2019 one here, too. #success

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I thought this was a joke as we crossed a street in Santa Monica. However, it’s part of a safety initiative. Certainly, caught my attention.

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I thought this was a joke as we crossed a street in Santa Monica. However, it’s part of a safety initiative. Certainly, caught my attention.

 

 

 

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