From Here to Gardena

Just as we’d finished packing up the car and were pulling away from the curb, it began to rain. Big, fat drops of rain. The first rain we’d had after six straight weeks of summery weather. This was not a good sign.

“Are we doing the right thing?” I asked.

Mr. WholeHog laughed. “What other option do we have? Fly to LA?”

Our LA road trip was already turning out differently than I’d expected and we hadn’t even left San Francisco. I’d imagined that I’d wear sundresses and drive with the windows open to let in the breeze. I pictured sun glinting off the ocean on our drive down the coast. I thought it’d be so hot that we’d pull over when we spotted a nice beach and swim in the ocean. Instead the sky was dark and it was raining hard.


It was dry 20 minutes later as drove through the new Devil’s Slide tunnel outside of Pacifica, and it was dry in Santa Cruz where we stopped for to get lunch and coffee. It drizzled a bit down the Big Sur coast, but our camping site at Limekiln State Park was protected under the redwoods. After we set up camp, we walked through the woods along a creek and up to a waterfall. (For some reason, every Big Sur hike I’ve done has included a walk along a creek and a walk to a waterfall).

It was gray the next morning, as we curved down the steep cliffs of Big Sur, scanning the sky in hopes of seeing a California condor (no luck). The hills were gentler just south of Big Sur where we drove past zebras in a pasture near Cambria and stopped briefly near San Simeon so I could take a look at the (smelly) beach full of elephant seals.


By Santa Barbara, it felt like we were suddenly in Southern California. The skies were clear and the sun was out. Palm trees lined the edge of the teal-colored ocean (with its depressing oil derricks) and the hills were full of red-tiled-roof homes. We stopped for tacos, discovered excellent Handlebar coffee and walked the sunny streets a bit before getting back in the car.

There were porpoises leaping out of the ocean by Camarillo, and we passed wildfire-charred hills by Oxnard. We listened to Neil Young’s Zuma as we drove past Zuma Beach and through Malibu.

The rain returned right when we were coming into LA, coming down hard just as we entered a packed LA freeway, but it stopped by the time we pulled up to our rented flat in Silverlake, and as the clouds parted, we could see the domes of Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign.



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