Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

First Leg: Skipping Over LA

Friday, May 19th - The first leg of my journey north was a short hop past Los Angeles. It should be noted that "a short hop past Los Angeles" is my preferred method of dealing with Los Angeles. One of the biggest misconceptions I find foreigners have about the United States is that they've been falsely lead to believe Los Angeles is a delightful place. This is because Hollywood is in LA, and all the Hollywood types live in the good parts of LA with heaps of money and think its just wonderful and portray it so in their movies. But if you don't have more money than you know what to do with and spend your time at swanky parties in the hills, its an ugly traffic-snarled place where nothing is anywhere near walking distance to anything else. Sure there's cool things in the city, the Getty Museums, the La Brea Tar Pits, the giant botanical garden of Huntington Gardens the Museum of Jurassic Technology, but you've generally gotta slog for an hour through traffic at any time of the day to get from any one of those places to any other.
   And so it was we began in a two car caravan slogging through LA traffic -- my parents would return home from Camarillo in one car and I would keep going north in the other. I was in "the ravioli," mom's Rav4, with her, and dad was in his prius, though by being on the phone with us the whole way, piped through the dash system, it was like he was there the whole time, a disembodied voice. We were on our way to my mom's dad's place ("Roger," as he is known to one and all) for his 90th birthday. We popped into a Carl's Jr drive-through for food, where the Western Bacon Cheeseburger was on my to-do list .. and only after we were already on the road again did I discover they'd given me merely an ordinary cheeseburger, which was an educational experience for me since I'd never had their ordinary cheeseburger and, lo, verily, it is a miserable wretched excuse for a burger!
   Northwest of Los Angeles County is Ventura County, a rather pleasant swath of primarily coastal agricultural land between the sea and foothills. The traffic lasted all the way to the turnoff for my grandfather's house though. My grandfather's house is in the hills of Camarillo and is full of memories, as grandparents' houses often are. The back yard has a nice quarter acre or so of lawn that is quite pleasant on a warm sunny day such as this was, and is largely shaded by a big brazilian pepper tree under which my parents got married (though of course I wasn't present for this). The lawn looks off across a gully to where a single hacienda dominates the opposite hill. Slightly lower than the lawn there is a chicken coop and my grandfather's workshop, which is filled with all manner of big tools, circumnavigated by a model train track, and also contains a very large telescope and is topped with a big dome to accommodate said telescope.
   As to the house, it used to be chalk full of my grandmother's beautiful paintings. But alas she passed away, just over ten years ago now I believe. My grandfather remarried and his new wife cleared out all the paintings, all the family photos, and one day I came to find the fridge was covered not in photos of all the grandchildren and family members, but just one photo of Nora herself. But anyway.
   There's still Roger's bookshelf, full of thick dignified old books on locomotives, engineering, and old naval stuff ... the latter being the subject I most enjoy perusing.

   Another thing I often leave out of travelogues but find are interesting when looking back on them much later is the context of news at the time. On this day President Trump had just arrived in Saudi Arabia on his first trip abroad and I was finding myself reloading newsfeeds hourly for the latest hilarious / mortifying news. Of particular note this day, Trump was pictured with the Saudi and Egyptian leaders all with their hands on a glowing orb as if they were definitely summoning some evil power. That evening the whole family made a point to catch the nightly news to hear the latest political drama, which has never ever been a thing we did when visiting before. Aside from Trump summoning evil powers in Saudi Arabia, back in Washington a special prosecutor had recently been appointed to investigate the firing of FBI Director Comey and possible Russian collusion by the Trump administration. As the whole family gave its rapt attention to the TV I wondered if this was what it was like to live through Watergate.

   The next morning some of us were leaving, though still others, such as my older brother Tobin, were still on their way. Nora's health was poor so it was intentionally arranged to not have too many people over at once. Since Tobin oozes self satisfaction and a wheedling need for attention I made my exit before he arrived.
   The sky was blue, the air was warm, and I was on the road alone in a very fuel efficient car with thousands of miles ahead of me!

Tags: america, automobile travel, california, epic roadtrip 2017, la, so cal, travel, travelogues

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