Thursday, March 8, 2012

Camping between the banks
Friday February 10
 So ... we’d got a rental RV (the one we are buying is not ready yet) but by the time we sorted out computers and stuff it was too late to leave town so we found a RV park down by the Long Beach foreshore - the equivalent of the Perth foreshore for those of you who know Perth. The harbour bank on one side and the Bank of America on the other. And then we got a fireworks display to top off the evening followed by a fly over of more than a dozen airforce helicopters the next morning - it’s all happening in Long Beach!

Union Bank on one side ...
river bank on the other, Long Beach.
Elevated above the ordinary - an afternoon at the Getty Centre
Saturday February 11

Perched in the Santa Barbara Hills, the monument that is the Getty Centre looks down upon the brash glitz and pseudo glamour - not to mention pollution - of LA. From below, looking up, it appears to be somewhat of a fortress, but once one arrives, the sheer elegance and refinement of design becomes apparent - it is a building to be in and around, not one to gaze on from afar. On the balmiest of days in what is an unseasonably early spring, the flowers are already out - azaleas, tulips and yes - you’d better believe it - kangaroo paws, in an unlikely but stunning garden arrangement with striking sculptures strewn throughout. The travertine pillars and gateways create windows on different parts of the gardens as well as on the city below, where waves of clouds could be seen building off the coast, seemingly contemplating whether or not to shroud the city in fog.
A few hours was sufficient to provide only a sample of what obscene wealth can buy - a select but impressive collection with both older masters and contemporary works arranged through a time series of some of the greatest artists that the world has produced. The ability to wander in and out of galleries, alternating the displays with beautiful garden vistas makes this a place that one could easily spend a day or two.  
Headed into the hills behind Malibu and found a picturesque camp site for a couple of nights interspersed with some walking around the trails of Malibu Canyon State park.

Our campsite at Malibu Creek State Park

Santa Barbara Sunday
Sunday February 12

Well ... a bit of poetic license, but we have been in the Santa Barbara Mountains and on our way back to the coast somewhere in the vicinity of SB. And it is Sunday. So what do Los Angeleans and Santa Barbarians (is that what they call themselves?) do on a Sunday? Many get on their motor bikes, or in their Porsches and Maseratis and speed around the windy roads through the hills just behind the LA / Santa Barbara Coast, presumably considering the fines dealt out by the police car tucked behind one of the sharp corners to be part of the price for a day’s entertainment. A smattering of fitness freaks do it on their pushbikes, thereby avoiding the speeding fines. A couple of old farts (us) in an oversized RV spoils the fun of the former and scares the daylights out of the latter! There is obviously a requirement for all motor bikes to stop in the same spot at a cafe / restaurant that couldn’t possibly meet the needs of the 100+ motorbikes (& not a Ducati to be seen) that are there at any point in time, but clearly the main purpose is to be part of the mob that are getting away from it all (together) rather than actually getting any coffee or cake. All the Porsche drivers waited ‘till they got to the coast and then lunched in a swanky seaside restaurant. We parked by the beach and had fruit and yoghurt - not very fashionable I’m afraid - but there was no crowd. high does the tide come in??
The end of the day sees us camped literally on the sand at Point Mugu State Park just south of Santa Barbara.  The waves are currently breaking about 50m away but the damp sand and scattered debris on the beach suggest that they may be lapping around our tyres in the night - haven’t pointed this out to Christine - will inform her in the morning. Beautiful sunset over the ocean (complete with pelicans), but windy as, so we canned the idea of a campfire and instead, snuggled indoors with a good Sonoma red.

Brown Pelicans about to call it quits for the day

Over the hills to Fresno
Monday February 13

An early cup of tea and we were on our way meandering the narrow winding roads through the Las Padres National Forest and over the Sierra Madre mountains. Hardly a soul to be seen on the roads as we twisted and turned up the steep inclines over ridges clad with pine and gullies lined with deciduous trees, many already starting to shoot new bursts of green.

“So why the heck would you want to go to Fresno?” asked my niece Rowena. Other than being the methamphetamine capital of the US, it doesn’t seem to have a great deal to offer the tourist - but we had good reason - we were off to meet our new home, and what a scary looking abode it turned out to be! Still under construction, it looked a lot bigger than we expected with huge wheels and jacked up like crazy. I don’t think there will be many places this beast wont go! Still half constructed, it looks more like a workshop at the moment, than our living quarters, but we were assured that it will be looking sparkling new in a little over a week. Can’t wait!

The other highlight of Fresno was the discovery of REI outdoor gear shops. Signed up as a member and started getting adventure-ready, checking out their range of mountain bikes, buying some new hiking shoes and, most importantly, a cute little espresso coffee pot.

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