The week following Lucky’s rehab was pretty hectic. We had scheduled visits with friends and family in the greater Los Angeles area, but with Lucky’s delay at GoWesty and Gregor having to work in between driving days, there wasn’t a lot of time for sightseeing.
Gregor and I were camped at Malibu Creek State Park, California, when we started planning the driving route for the next day. Our goal was to drive to Riverside for a 5 pm dinner with Gregor’s friend, Babak, and his family.
According to Google Maps, we were only 140 km (88 mi) from Riverside and LA was on the way.
“Great!” I said to Gregor, “If we leave camp early in the morning, we can stop at some famous spots in LA before dinner in Riverside.”
“Cool,” Gregor said, “I want to see the Chinese theatre and the Walk of Fame.”
“Oooh, and I want to cruise through Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills and get a nice photo of the Hollywood sign,” I added.
I jumped back onto Google and found a one-day driving itinerary that covered the stops on our hit list plus other sights such as Venice Beach, Sunset Strip, and the Hollywood Bowl. Awesome, I thought. We’ll just follow this route.
The itinerary casually mentioned that LA rush hour is from 3 to 6 pm, and that it’s best to avoid touring the city around that time. No problem, I thought. We’ll leave downtown LA by 2 pm and just get to Riverside early. Satisfied with our driving plans, we went to bed to get a good night’s sleep.
We woke up the next morning half frozen in our bed. The Malibu Creek campground is located in the Santa Monica mountains and it’s at a high enough elevation that the overnight temperature had dropped to about 5 deg C (41 deg F). When I finally mustered up the courage to crawl out of bed, I put on my toque and gloves and started breakfast.
The cold made us sluggish that morning so we didn’t get to Venice Beach until 10:30 am. We soaked up some rays, dilly-dallied on the boardwalk, and explored the canals that make up the town’s namesake.
Before we knew it, it was 11:30 and the probability of driving through LA rush hour was suddenly very high. Gregor didn’t want to be late for dinner, but I really wanted to see the sights on our hit list.
Knowing that I hate missing out on anything, Gregor came up with a compromise: “OK,” he said, “I drive, you navigate us to the places on the list, but no stopping. Just take photos from the van as we’re moving.”
It seemed like a perfectly feasible plan. “Let’s do it!” I yelped.
It turns out that taking photos from a moving vehicle with a point-and-shoot camera while navigating through a metropolis on a short timeline is not the most awesome way to experience a city. Some photos didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted…
Despite our valiant efforts to race through LA, we still ended up in rush hour traffic on a four-lane interstate highway. It took us two hours to drive 50 km (31 mi) from LA to Riverside.
Not surprisingly, we arrived at Riverside an hour late. Gregor turned off the ignition in Babak’s driveway and we both looked out the windshield in a daze.
“No more big cities,” he declared.
“Never again,” I replied.
The stress from the LA traffic melted away when Babak greeted us at the door with a big smile. While it’s exciting at times to see new sights, it’s always good to see a familiar face.
That night, Babak’s wife, Roza, cooked an amazing dinner. Fish, chicken, veggie dishes, bread, fruit, cheese, nuts, cake…there was enough food to feed an army. Great food with great company – it was a fine way to end our day in LA.