Los Angeles. Cold, big queues, sore shoulders from hiking pack and a long wait before I worked out how to make my way to the car hire.
Things did improve after this. Picked up my jeep, seen in photo (am a bit excited to be able to drive this for a couple of months), looked with some trepidation at all LA traffic on the wrong side of the road, and, with a prayer off I went. First stop was a mall to do a bit of shopping before beginning the almost 10 hour drive up to Redding.
So far my most valuable item?? The GPS with North America maps loaded. With a familiar Australian accent telling me where to go, and with a few wrong turns along the way, I found my way to a mall and bought a SIM card for the phone, some lunch, and some elastic exercise thing with the (optimistic??) thought that this will help with staying a bit fit!
Back to the car to email family of my safe arrival, put directions into the GPS, and continue the adventure.
After a few hours driving, so far, so good. No one had beeped their horn at me or, in George Bush's words, given me the two finger salute.
Four lane highways seem quite common and there is a good system of exits from the freeway.
Had a surprise drive through snow outside LA. a snow plough had to come through, one car had spun out, another car began sliding perilously close to a big truck as I was next to it in another lane, and for a long way two of the four lanes were unusable as they were covered in snow. Thankfully drove through the snow without incident other than a tiny slip of the wheels, and continued.
Next stop: fuel. Lessons learnt: pay for your fuel with a credit card at the pump, otherwise you need to go into the store, tell the assistant which pump you are using and how much money you'd like to pay, pay the money, and then you can go and fill up your car.
Back on the road with the plan of reaching Santa Cruz for the night. Too tired so instead stopped off at Santa Barbara. Found (thanks GPS) a hotel at about 9pm, booked in and called it a night. Very tired and jet lagged. Quick shower and bed. So far so good on a long day 1 of the journey.
Day 2. Car packed and ready to go by 7.30. At the advice of the Hispanic lady at the hotel, the cafe/restaurant The Happy Rooster was recommended. One omelette and hash brown later (with offered pancakes denied) I was considering a weeks fast, and did skip lunch.
The coffee, though not like home, was better than expected. Beware: if you keep drinking, your cup will keep being refilled. I think I had in total maybe 2 cups of coffee with cream.
Arrival at Redding a bit after lunch. Family friends Rob and Carole were kind enough to put me up for 3-4 weeks. Its a great house with some great people. If you walk outside the house, there are views of mountains in both directions, including Shasta, where there is snowboarding and skiing. I would to do this if I hadn't read the fine print of the travel insurance which says snow sports are not covered (you might see Shasta in the background of the photo). Having heard some horror stories with uninsured accidents
($20 000 for a broken bone) I don't think it's worth the risk...
Next blog: week one at Redding and the Randy Clark and Bill Johnson conference...