Sunday, March 23, 2008

Carpenteria to LA

Greetings honourable readers,


We arrived in Carpenteria somewhat late and did not feel like going swimming. It was a very nice beach, but we were content to set up camp, play chess and go to bed. We've been playing a lot of chess lately. Taran usually lets me win, but he has occasionally asserted his superiority and won the odd game to keep me in check. The railway track has been very close to many of the coastal campgrounds. I didn't quite realize how loud a train whistle can be when it's right beside 11 oclock at night. One positive note in Carpenteria, I did earn a bit of money fixing the shower machine. It had become jammed with quarters (and a few mexican coins) and I spent 20 minutes pulling 4 quarters out of the machine.

Mcgrath State Beach

Mcgrath State Beach is located just outside of Ventura. We met a fellow Hiker/biker who had come from Tuscon AZ and was heading north. He seemed to be a "transient" in the sense that he had most of his possessions with him and was going to look for work somewhere north of San Francisco. We chatted for quite a while on survival techniques for crossing the desert from San Diego to Texas. When I mentioned to him that Taran was going to sleep "under the stars" he informed us that there was likely going to be a lot of dew in the morning and that Taran would likely get very wet. Luckily Taran decided to move into the tent because we even got wet in the tent...the dew was so heavy. We also met this woman who works in Ventura but lives on a boat 30 miles north. It was late when she left work and decided to stay at the campground for a change. She was a surfboard/sail boat/boogie board instructor. She invited us to come stay on her boat but unfortunately it was in the wrong direction.
When we arrived at Mcgrath SB we were the only campers in an entire section of the campground. A few hours later a huge...and I mean huge Fifth Wheel Camper parked beside our tent (a two man tent). This thing was the tallest (probably 14 feet high) and one of the longest campers we have seen. It had it's own garage...the rear wall of the unit would come down and become the ramp to remove the 7 Quads that they had. Once the 7 Quads had been removed, a Master Bed would descend from the ceiling along with a large flat screen TV. The unit would sleep 10 easily, more if you didn't mind sleeping on the floor. I can't imagine how much this thing was worth, but it sure was nice. In the morning, they offered us coffee and hot chocolate which was a nice treat.

Sycamore near Point Mugu

On the way to Sycamore State Park, we stopped at the US Naval Air Station which had an outdoor museum of Fighter Jets and missiles. I was surprised at how much Taran knew about the missiles...a veritable walking missile encyclopedia. Also near this area we spotted people on a huge sand dune using crazy carpets and rubbermaid bin lids to slide down on. It didn't work all that well, but it did look fun. Sycamore SP is located in a canyon up from the Ocean hidden amongst some trees. We did not have any dew issues at Sycamore. As it turns out, Sycamore had the hottest showers of any campground that we have experienced thus far. We actually had to turn the cold on to moderate the heat!! We also spent considerable time building a slingshot which is now part of our permanent luggage.

Sycamore to LA

Phaedra had previously arranged accommodation with some friends of ours in LA - Anthony and Melissa. We hadn't seen them in almost 15 years, but they graciously agreed to allow us to invade their home for a few days. Anthony was concerned that the roads from the coast to their home in Woodland Hills would be too treacherous and hilly for us to use. We agreed to meet at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier at 5pm and we would pack up our stuff in their vehicle and drive to their home. So, Taran and I set out early in the day to ensure we would make it to the Pier on time. On the way, Taran had his first accident. A car pulled in front of him and stopped suddenly, presumably to swing into a parking spot. Taran ran into the back end of the vehicle. I didn't notice what had transpired and continued on. Taran flew over his bike, hit the vehicle and landed on the ground. Taran was not physically hurt, but it sure rattled him. It took a few hours for him to get over the experience. Luckily there was no damage to the bicycle.
We made extremely good time and arrived at the Pier by 1 pm. We spent the afternoon hanging around the Pier in near perfect weather (around 25 degrees and no wind). There was probably 5 or 6 thousand people on the Pier and on the beaches. If you are not familiar with the Pier, it has a carnival on it. Rides, Games, Buskers, restaurants, arcades, shops, etc. We played mini-golf, we tried to win a basketball at the basket shoot, we played video games we ate ice cream (and our PB Sandwiches) and we watched many many people fail at all of the games!! A most enjoyable afternoon.
With all the people and congestion, it took a while to meet up with Anthony and Melissa and their children Dominic (12) and Bella (10) and their dog Crystal (1.5) at the appointed hour. We loaded up the stuff and headed towards their home. Anthony took us on the route that we would have taken had we ridden our bikes. The road turned out to be quite "bike-unfriendly" (no shoulder, lots of blind corners and mostly up-hill). Taran and I were very thankful that we didn't have to tackle this road and we had the opportunity to spend the afternoon at Santa Monica Pier.
Anthony and Melissa have been extremely generous in opening their home to us and letting us hang out. This morning (Easter) they allowed us to join them in going to Mass. It's been a while since I've been in church and it was actually a neat experience. The Pastor/Father gave a very simple but effective sermon. I also enjoyed the childrens choir. This afternoon, they allowed Taran to join the children (some other kids came over as well) in the easter egg hunt in the back yard. Taran was quite happy to have some candy for a change. Dominic and Taran seem to have hit it off quite well. I'm sure the Wii and the computer games have helped the relationship!
This evening Taran and I will have to decide what we're going to do for the next two days. I'm sure something will come up!

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