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July 9, 2016

Day 7 - Saturday(7/8) - Santa Maria to La Jolla, San Diego, CA

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in La Jolla, San Diego, CA.

Starting Odometer: 41,885
Ending Odometer: 42,245
Miles driven today: 360 miles

So, this morning I got up and left Santa Maria, trying as diligently as possible to stick to the coast. So, that meant that I was trying to follow CA-1, but occasionally also ending up on the US 101. So, I sort of drove down the coast in this manner. Cursing my GPS, and trying as hard as possible to follow the coast.

The first town of interest that I came to was Lompoc. Lompoc has always been an enigma to me because, the first (and last) time I was down here, some man told me: "Don't go to Lompoc. It's a bad town."

Now, I went through Lompoc last time, and had no issues. What I do remember fairly well though is a mural of some Indians paddling a canoe. And, this is what I like so desperately to see....to see something that I remember from before. Even if all I remember is the photos, I still want to see proof that I'm at the same exact place again, albeit several years later. I don't know why I find this so encouraging, but I do.

I have spent a lot of time trying to imagine what so bothered that man that he warned me about Lompoc. I do think there's a state prison there but, aside from that, I can find no major deficiencies in the town.

I stopped for gas and they were grilling Tri-tips in the parking lot. OK. Sure. Why not. $9.00? Set me up.

Now, I'm sitting here in the parking lot of a gas station eating my tri-tips and some man sits down to join me. He spends 9 months of the year in AZ, and the summers here in Lompoc. Apparently, the Tri-tip was invented in Lompoc. Back in Texas, all they had was brisket. The Tri-tip comes from the hind leg of the cow. Who knew?

I ask him if he knows where my mural is, and he tells me: "If there is one, it will be down there...in the old section of town."

So after lunch, I'm driving through Lompoc, and I find scads of murals. Way more than I'd imagined or remembered. So, I'm driving around and shooting lots of murals, and then, lo and behold, I found the famous mural of the indians rowing the canoe, exactly as I recalled it.

After Lompoc, I really don't think that I've ever been down here but once before, when I drove my Honda Prelude down to the border, planning on driving to El Salvador. But when I got to Chula-Juana, I chickened out and drove back across L.A. at 3:00 a.m. to avoid traffic.

OK. There was one other time. I used to work for a company here just north of L.A., and I tried to surf at Malibu, and failed.

OK so...my plan today was to drive through Lompoc, then to Santa Barbara, and Malibu, then Riverside, CA, out in the deserts east of LA.

At some point I see a guy selling fresh strawberries on the side of the road. So I stop, of course. Life is too short to pass up fresh fruit. And I've been wanting some strawberries since I smelled them in the strawberry fields yesterday.

So, I stop and choke down some strawberries. The guy admitted something to me that I've heard before, but have never had verified. In Mexico, they teach them not to mess with the gringos. Like, you can kill each other, but for the love of God, don't fuck with the tourists. They're our life-blood.

At Santa Barbara, you start seeing all of these drilling rigs out on the ocean. The first time I ever saw them, I was shocked. I couldn't imagine that California tree-huggers would allow anyone to drill off their coast. What I didn't know then, but researched, is that California had their oil spills first. That's why they were always so dead-set against drilling. They had their coastline painted in tar back in 1969, long before I was aware of the issue.

I'd planned to drive into the Riverside, in the deserts east of L.A. today, but once I got to Malibu, I decided to make a break for San Diego. Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!

I mean, basically, my thought process was:
a) No one in their right mind would go to Riverside if they didn't absolutely have to.
2) I don't really HAVE to be in Riverside until Monday at 9:00 a.m.
c) I would much rather be in La Jolla than Riverside, on any given Sunday.

So...yeah...basically I overshot my target by 150 miles.

But honestly, I don't know what to do in the deserts east of L.A. It doesn't sound like a nice place. And La Jolla is....well....La Jolla. So, yeah.

Now, I'm heading south of I-405, and the traffic starts backing up. I'm just sort of sitting in traffic and this BMW R1200GS comes blowing by me, lane-splitting. Now, lane-splitting is not technically legal in California, but it's widely tolerated. And, this guy is doing a trick that seems like it might be OK. He's lane-splitting between the Carpool lane and the left-most lane on the interstate. And there's a solid-double-yellow-line between the two lanes which means "do not cross". So, it seems like a fairly safe place to lane-split. So, I follow him. Plus, with him leading, it seems arguably safer for me, coming along behind.

Basically, we ride like this for some time, where we lane-split for a while, and then traffic starts to flow again. Eventually, I make ti down to La Jolla at about sunset. I decide that I've gone far enough for the day. Sure, I'd like to run down to Rosarito, but this will have to do. I'm tired and I stop to shoot some photos at La Jolla Beach at sunset.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 9, 2016 at 11:19 PM


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