California

Click for mapMay 28 - Tuesday
Scheduled trip: Lompoc, CA - Palo Alto, CA
Actual trip: Lompoc, CA - Palo Alto, CA (290 miles)


The City at the Bay
The time had come to continue north. Once again the cars were loaded. Everything had become a routine by this point in time. Almost daily we checked the fluid levels of the cars before starting off for the day, adding oil and water if needed. Another fuse had gone bad in the Camaro's CB. Dave easily made the repairs. The rate at which the fuses burned out was worrying because we still had another 3000 miles or more to go. Something fishy was definitely going on in the Chevy's electrical system but as long as it was only affecting the CB and not the car itself, the problem wasn't too critical.
We left Lompoc around 9 AM and headed straight for US-1 a.k.a. Pacific Coast Highway, a winding and very scenic road that stretches from the area east of Lompoc to northern California. Some of this road was used as a model for the classic computer game "Test Drive 2 - The Duel". As in many cases reality beat fiction: The hairpin turns and dramatic hills were even more fun to negotiate than in the game. Of course the speed was considerably slower, in fact we had to slow down to 15-20 mph in order to turn a corner safely. The roars of the V8s compensated well for the lack of velocity.

Picture supplied by Dave (12961 bytes)
The Pacific from US-1


We stopped at Hearst Castle, a grandiose "summer cottage" built by William Randolph Hearst, the media tycoon. Discouraged by the entrance fee, which was close to 20 bucks, we went for a walk outside the grounds instead. The castle was situated on a hilltop and it looked very impressive indeed but no one really wanted to pay out the money in order to have a closer look.
Continuing north, we had the road to ourselves most of the time. However, it was rather annoying when a slow-moving car or camper blocked the road. Overtaking was a tricky business because most of the time we couldn't see more than a few hundred feet ahead of us. Luckily in most cases the slower moving vehicles pulled off the road to let us pass.
Naturally we also had to stop several times to enjoy the landscape. At one point we saw several seals and sea lions lounging on the cliffs below us. They didn't seem to mind being watched from a distance. The lazy mammals earned the name 'farting animals' due to the noises they made while digesting whatever they had been eating.
We reached the southern part of Palo Alto before rush hour started. Dave gave us directions to the house of Ursine Bernhard, a girl he had gone to school with back in Switzerland. The house was situated in a rather fashionable suburban neighborhood, which we didn't have any problems finding.
After being introduced to Ursine and her aunt, who owned the house, we were assigned rooms. The wooden house consisted of two stories and had a nice backyard with a pond. Here we met a friendly Golden Retriever that insisted to play ball with us. Without hesitation it even dived into the pond in order to fetch the ball... Talk about retrieving!!
Mark was quick to discover the sound system and immediately put on some techno music. Apparently he had drawback symptoms because Manuel didn't let him play it all the time in the car. Manuel, that's cruelty! To keep a man from his music!
After a talk we decided to go out for some dinner. Ursine took us to a restaurant where we had the buffet. The remainder of the evening was spent on talk before we turned in around midnight after an exhausting day.

Sound Snippet (125 Kb)
Dave's frolicking - Niels is grumpy.

Area map of San Francisco (>300 Kb).
Go to the next page in the Diary (May 29).

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