We started the week off with a big day, Jonathan’s 40th, I performed as an absolute abysmal wife for the big day basically providing a whole lot of nothing. I’ve been terribly ill and disoriented from a double ear infection and the prescribed medicine to treat it (1000 mg of penicilian twice a day!), that the day suddenly appeared and I had no made no effort it. Poor showing, I promise to do better for his 50th. We celebrated at Joshua Tree, our last stop before seeing my sister and crossing the border. I’m going to be honest, people have ranted and raved and carried on about Joshua Tree, I don’t get it. But then again I never get it when it comes to amazing outdoor adventure places, I’m just not outdoorsy. It was cold and windy, that is what I know. But the stars did put on an impressive display and our new camera was able to properly capture them, so we were pretty excited about that.
The second big day we celebrated this week was Milton’s Gotcha Day, hard to believe we’ve been at this for a year now. It’s even harder to believe what he looked like when we picked up him from the good ol’ boy a year ago. I cringe when I remember the maroon carpet and faux food finish, not to mention the heinous fabric choices. We are constantly talking about trading Milton in, constantly, but it’s really hard to imagine not having him. He’s perfect, he’s very much a very cozy, happy home. We’ve made so many changes and added so many thing I couldn’t imagine starting all over again. He is a beloved part of the team. We’ve put about 20,000 miles on him in the last year, he’s covered the entire country and provided the prefect size home for this adventure, but I am prepared to admit he may not be the perfect size for the next adventure, but I’d never say it within his earshot.
My sister and brother in law were lovely enough to put us up in Phoenix for the final run up to the border, they were also kind enough to put up with the 50 or so odd Amazon deliveries that came to their door in the last few weeks (what did people do before amazon?!). Having a place to relax while we got things in order, looked at other vehicles, guzzied Milton up, stressed over the spread of Zika, and got Gogi prepped was unbelievably helpful. Not to mention they took us to delicious restaurants, entertained us and allowed us to stay even though the cats were not fond of the Gog-mister, he’s terrifying. We depart in a few days, and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m expecting or what the roads are going to look like, to be honest I’m expecting it to be pretty much the same as America, I’m not expecting a Ukrainian border crossing where suddenly we’re not in the first world anymore, but you never know…
Ah, it’s good to be back on the road.
The week started off in LA, in the ‘arts district’. As secret graffiti fans, we booked ourselves onto a little walking tour of the warehouse district, and got a chance to get our first glimpse into a hipster part of LA early on. It’s very much the same as any other ‘becoming gentrified’ part of a run down part of any city, but it certainly had a distinct LA feel to it.
The next day we decided whilst we were being tourists (it had been a long time since either of us had properly been to LA) we would do a Hollywood walking tour. I remember Hollywood being rather grotty if I’m honest, and the tour didn’t do anything to dispel that myth. And it didn’t seem like they were doing anything about trying to tidy the place up. I’m sure there’s some poetic dichotomy or something that I should reference here, but essentially something for the tourists without much class to it. That evening I caught up with some old school friends for a few drinks. In some ways quite depressing to think we left school some 20 odd years ago, but they were both doing well, and it was great to reminisce about the good old days.
After that we had some luxurious days staying with some friends of Meg. The usual mix of a big bed, a large couch and some wifi. We went to see the filming of James Cordon’s Late Late show one day. I was really hoping to be called up as one of the audience to be on TV. As he was local to where I grew up, I thought that might have given me an ‘in’ – I’d even practised my little speech for when I got called upon. Alas, it was one of the few episodes where there was zero audience participation! We also spent an evening watching Honey Honey perform. They are a band whose music has been an integral part of Hairventures trips (they are also a friend of a friend of Megs) – it was great to finally catch them.
After LA we spent a couple of days in San Diego. We’d heard great things about it, and we did get to visit a couple of the cool little districts. However, and truth be told, we were a little citied out. Central coast California is just one big conurbation, and since November we have been in the area, so all we really wanted to do was to find a little open space, park up Milton, have a BBQ and pull out the deckchairs. So, off to The Joshua Tree national park we go.
The most common question people ask full time travellers is, ‘how do you afford it?’, the answer is often convoluted and always different depending on the couple. For us, we’re lucky, Jonathan made wise investments when he was younger and we have enough coming in from these that most of the time it sees us through the month. Hopefully after we cross the border it will be all of the time with some to spare. But every now and then, it doesn’t cover us (or we get nervous and spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets), or in this case we get married and any financial cushion is blown. Which is why we spent the last 6 weeks in San Luis Obispo. I got a job waiting tables so that we could get our bank balance back up.
I got really lucky, and got a really good job, in a very busy restaurant, at the busiest time of year. To be honest, I don’t mind waiting tables - it’s fast paced, always changing and you come across interesting people a lot of the time. Would I rather be kneading dough? Of course, but making bread simply does not pay the bills.
San Luis has proved a perfect location. Small enough to be able to afford, and big enough to hide ourselves in. Warm weather, no rain and near the sea. We passed a wonderful Christmas (complete with a proper English feast) and a fairly tame New Years, but best of all I hit our financial target, and we were able to move on on schedule. So that’s it, the final schlep before crossing the border. We’re heading down the California coast then turning to Phoenix to catch my sister, and then planning to cross the border the first week of February. It’s all very, very exciting. And a little bit scary.