Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Week 1 : Los Angeles to Malibu

Never having been to California in reality I was not sure where to start. But everybody has been to California. The names, the images, the sounds and the sights of the city are engraved on the consciousness of all of us. Thus, for everyone, it is a journey of rediscovery : rediscovery of the locations of a thousand films, books and TV programmes.

My mental image of Union Station was something big, grand, imposing, Hollywood-like. I therefore got a bit of a shock when I actually downloaded an image of it and found it looked a bit like a Mexican municipal hospital. So this would be a journey full of surprises. I headed west. I was determined to reach the sea as quickly as possible and therefore Amy and I stuck to the main thoroughfares with a minimum of diversions. I have never actually seen the Pacific Ocean. I once got to within about 20 miles of it - in the middle of the Panama Canal - but then the ship I was on turned tail and headed back to the familiar safety of the Atlantic. I was anxious to see this most massive of oceans and I therefore hurried past some iconic locations with barely a glance.

By Saturday (Day 4) I had reached Santa Monica Pier. This seemed a good place to test out the extent of hard information which could be grafted onto my virtual experience and I turned to the Santa Monica Pier website with eager anticipation. Unfortunately all I found was a logo, a list of car parking charges, and the statement "welcome to Santa Monica Pier". Other web sites proved far richer and I spent an entertaining time exploring the area. The Santa Monica PierCam reminded how much traffic there is (virtual travel is car and pollution-free) and therefore Amy and I took to the beach for the rest of the day and headed north-west towards Malibu.

By the end of Week 1 we had pitched our virtual tent in Malibu Bluffs Park. Amy lapped up some bottled water and I sipped a glass of Dalwhinnie 15 year old malt and listened to smooth jazz on The Wave. The first week has been a journey of discovery but one which has been overloaded by too many sights and sounds. As I head north towards San Francisco there will be weeks when I hardly pass a town or village. I suspect I will discover more about America today in these outlying areas that I will in the big cities. Week one is now over .... roll on week two.

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