Thursday, June 17, 2010

Down N Out

The conference ended on Friday, but the grand adventure continued. That morning, we went to rent a car and were graced with a pretty cheap five-class upgrade, from "intermediate" to "premium," from a Pontiac G5 to a convertible Seabring. An hour or so later, and amidst a wee bit of confusion, this car departed for San Diego with 2 Austrians who never made the trip (Josef and Clemens). We of course took a mostly coastal route, from Monterey to San Diego. Jack Johnson's dulcet voice came on just as we hit the famous yet underloved Pacific Coast Highway, followed by a fine blend of road trip music from the car's satellite radio.

Highway 1

We were in no great hurry to make it south, with liberal stops for pictures that I will post sometime later. Our first longer stop was to see the elephant seals a bit north of Cambria. There they were, dozens of massive, 2 ton beasts, wallowing on the sand. They really don't move gracefully on land, and they look ridiculous anyway, and sound pretty silly. I bet they don't smell too good either. I watched them, just laying there on the beach, sometimes rolling over or flipping sand. Minutes went by. Roll over. Flip sand. Bark. Accomplish absolutely nothing, be silly, lounge on the beach all day. Wow. And I instead drive and work and write blog entries. I deem elephant seals noble beasts, and kindred creatures.

Elephant seals

They think I'm cute.

After a brief trip to the Hearst Castle gift shop, just a few minutes south, we continued to Santa Barbara. I thought about taking the labbies to Hearst Castle, but decided not to, for the same reason I did not take the (Austrian native) labmates to Disneyland, or a San Diego Mission, or anything vaguely castle-like anywhere in SoCal. I took my job as SoCal cherrypopper quite seriously.

And so our next stop was at the In - N - Out in SB, a true California icon. The labbies agreed it was a tasty burger, and were fascinated by the array of secret ordering tricks, which are mediated by an elaborate secret dialect. It seems rather like Styrian. I told them they only need to remember "Animal Style" to get by at In - N - Out. Oh, and don't get discombobulated when they ask you if your burger is "to go" at a drive thru. Yes, I realize it sounds obvious at a drive thru. But "box it up to eat in your car" is a valid option, and fueled many a trip along the 1, 5, 15, 40, 66, and the other state and interstate highway numbers that support so many great American road trips.

A couple hours later, we drove through Camarillo. My old friend Victor Wang is from there, as is the hot chick from Big Bang Theory. The trip through LA went as well as could be expected. As I told my labbies, there was not much traffic because it was pretty late on a Friday. I had good fun playing tour guide and pointing out all the sights. And (as I mentioned many times) the play the same music in Austria as in the US, so the songs were familiar to them. The difference was that some of the locations in the songs are in fact along the drive. Tom Petty's "Free Fallin" hit the radio just after we drove by Mulholland; I got to explain it and the reference to Reseda.

It was a shame driving through Pendleton at night, since I really, really wanted to see that beach on the way down. But missing traffic was probably worth it. I did notice an increase in monster trucks as we entered San Diego, but overall, traffic was surprisingly light. We made it safely, and then the next major phase of the So Cal sojourn began.

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