2014 US trip: Last days in California

13 03 2014

After I left Asilomar at Pacific Grove, I spent the night in Monterey, then, because it was stormy, I headed to Bakersfield and then on the Palm Springs on the Sunday. My conference started on the Monday, so having Sunday to drive for just a few hours, pop into the outlet mall near Palm Springs for a few things, check in, unpack, catch up with a few friends I spotted in the lobby when checking in to the conference hotel, was nice and relaxing.

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Some of my impressions from the second week (the conference notes are on my other blog, so I won’t repeat them here) include:

  • Californian radio is pretty awful, especially when you’re on a long drive and don’t have your own music to listen to. No doubt Australian radio is as bad or worse, but as I have my own car and my own music in that car, I never have to listen to it! In California, searching the radio stations takes you through a vast array of mariachi-type music, Bible-thumping preachers or ‘uplifting’ gospel songs, (c)rap music, heavy rock, a little bit of classical, maybe some country (I like country!), or perhaps some classic rock or ‘yacht rock’. Latino and evangelistic stations seem to dominate the airwaves.
  • Californian traffic is fast and furious. Well, not so much furious, but it is fast. You have to keep up with the traffic more so than obey the speed limit, otherwise you’ll get squashed between trucks. US drivers are polite and let you in, though some (mostly on LA freeways) weave in and out of lanes for no apparent betterment in position. There’s also a lot of tailgating — not malicious ‘get out of my way’ tailgating, but just driving too close to other cars for the conditions. That’s a bit scary. And when it rains, as it did for the first time in months while I was there, the drivers going over the passes on the I5 north of LA didn’t slow down from their 70+ mph speed while going down steep hills in heavy cloud and slick rain — I white-knuckled it through that section, wondering if a truck or car in front of me would slip in the conditions and go out of control, causing a pile-up. Leave some space between you and the next vehicle… don’t see it as an opportunity to slip in and fill it as the other driver might be deliberately trying to stay a safe distance from the car/truck in front.
  • Palm Springs was hot (85-90F) at the time I was there (early March). I’d hate to be there in summer. There were LOTS of people in and by the pool at the hotel, some of whom were getting very burnt as they’d likely flown in from a snowy state and were wearing no sun protection. The nights were balmy and cooler than the days, but definitely not cold. The hot climate plants were growing well — e.g. the palms of course, bougainvillea, cacti, aloes, etc.
  • The Palm Springs VillageFest markets (held every Thursday night in the main street) are pretty awesome and very big! Fresh produce, gourmet foods, arts and crafts, buskers, street food, and thousands of people all behaving well. The restaurants are all very busy on the night. If you go and you like BBQ beef, do yourself a favour and spend $8 on a Tri-tip BBQ brisket in a toasted bun from the CVBBQ food stall. Delicious!
  • The TSA rules on taking off your shoes might work better if someone actually checked the area for potentially dangerous things that can poke into your bare feet! I was at LAX going through the TSA screening area, and had got to the other side ready to grab my shoes and bags when a small and very sharp screw pierced my heel. It hurt like hell! I squealed a bit, hobbled around, and another passenger asked if I was OK. I pulled the embedded screw out of my bare heel pad and hopped over to the TSA agent and handed the screw to him…. and got absolutely NO response. Not even a question asking me if I was OK.

 

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2 responses

14 03 2014
treadlemusic

Tailgating in the US is a sport in some areas, I think. It makes me very nervous as well!! I haven’t been out to California in years but Monterey is one of my fave spots. I’m enjoying your trip reports!!!! Hugs…………..

28 03 2014
Dawn C.

Just the thought of driving in heavy traffic in certain areas is terrifying (NY, CA). Makes Dallas, Houston, & Atlanta seem easy.

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