Happy Trails #10 – Adieu to the land of hope & glory

Fittingly Santa Monica pier is the end of Route 66 which starts all the way in Illinois. Similarly, Santa Monica is also the last stop of our grand trip around the southwestern coast of this land of hope and glory. The pier, like everywhere else, is chinsed-up to within an inch of its life, yet it’s classic LA. Standing out over the Pacific Ocean you can see the white sands of the Golden coast lazily stretching out as far as the eye can see, bordered by swaying palms and motel blocks. Prime real estate, built in a mixture of modernist and art nouveau lines the beach, home to the area’s great, good and infamous.

If Santa Monica is the boutique chic, Venice beach, on the other hand, is more drug laden surfers paradise. California has legalised cannabis in small amounts for ‘medicinal’ purposes and as one strolls along the ocean walk, you can stop by one of Venice’s many ‘physicians’ to pick up your must-have prescription. They clearly felt that Luke needed to loosen up! Similarly, or those into the kinky – Venice beach is where it’s at! Pierced body builders, you got it! Chubby sword throwers, be my guest! Venice beach caters for all alternative tastes with a menagerie of colourful characters ready to sell you interesting artworks, model for photographs, provide you with their latest music demo or provide you with all your home reefer requirements.

We killed our last few hours back at the Hacienda hotel with the tour crew, also docking for the night before flights home. It was beautifully cyclical!

Although Americans don’t really do bread and have cheese in a spray can (so many shades of wrong!) and I’ll never be able to eat another burger, I’ll miss the overly cheerful bus drivers. Even at the airport, we were waved off by a ‘Howdy, how ya’ll doing today?’, something we will never get in Britain. In fact, there’s something about Americans, even the whole country, that’s imbued with an upbeat positivity and optimism which is infectious and makes a welcome change from our self-depreciating sarcasm!

After 3 states, 1 train heist, 1 plane explosion, a stuck van in a sand dune, 4 fire alarms, the odd run in with the park rangers and a very big ditch – all 1640 miles have been a complete scream!


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