Getting back into the swing of things, heading south to LA.

Pete and Carol had already moved their camper by the time we woke. Speaking to them when we arrived back across the road, Pete informed us that they received a knock on the window and were asked to move by the supermarket staff. It just goes to show the extra leniency we get thanks to Ruby.

Before leaving, we wanted to ride the cable cars and drive down the renowned Lombard Street. And so we set off on our bikes back towards the cable cars.

Rocks in trees??

We rode the cable cars into the city centre and set off on foot to find some nice street food, deciding on Japantown as our location for interesting veggie food.

That guy was loud
View of one of the streets
Cable car record player

After reading some reviews, we settled on a small take away named Tako Yaki Yamachan, where we sampled some Tako Yaki, fried octopus balls with a mixture of sauces. Even Willow enjoyed them, and she rarely enjoys seafood. After the Tako Yaki, we sampled some mochi doughnuts. Strange looking savoury doughnuts, which we both devoured in no time.

Lots of appetising food
Strangely delicious octopus food

Fed, we walked back to the cable car route and jumped back on and headed back to our bikes.

Heading back
Back at the start

Before heading back to Ruby, we stopped off for an Irish coffee. Apparently, the bar we went to was famous for making killer coffees. It was pretty pricey, but it wasn’t half delicious!

Waiting for our expensive Irish coffees

Getting ready to leave the marina which had been our base for almost a week, we said goodbye to Pete and Carol and promised to come and find them in Alberta when the weather picked up. We then made our way to Lombard Street. One of the most popular roads to drive down in San Francisco, if not the world.

We had picked a good day to try it, as there was only one other car before us. Pulling up, there was a crowd of people taking pictures who all sudden focused on the van. It would have been a very bad time for the breaks to fail. I was fortunate enough to drive, whilst Willow followed on foot, recording it from the outside. Relieved to have stopped at the bottom, Willow jumped in and we set off, heading out of San Francisco, stopping off briefly at a pet shop for Aimee to have her rabies vaccination.

Before Willow’s parents left, we had talked about potentially booking a whale watching tour, but ultimately ran out of time to do it, as the nearest one was just south of San Francisco, near Monterrey. As a treat, we decided to book a tour on Groupon, and so set off on a fairly big drive, hoping to find a spot fairly close for the tour the next morning.

The drive was not a pleasant experience. The roads were busy and it was starting to get dark. Neither of us enjoy driving Ruby at night due to her poor visibility.

A couple of hours later, we made it to a secluded spot off what seemed to be a quiet road in the middle of nowhere. We would find out in the morning that it really wasn’t.

The busy road wasn’t the only thing that disturbed us in the morning. The weather had turned over night, with bursts of heavy rain pounding upon the pop top roof.

There was also the phone call…

As the weather had turned, we received an early morning phone call from the tour company. The captain was not confident about the forecast and so he had made the decision to cancel the tour, meaning we would have to continue to wait for our opportunity to see some whales.

Wet wet wet
Hidden away
Aimee’s new jumper

As the weather had turned on us, we decided to set off towards Los Angeles, picking a spot on some BLM land about an hour from L.A. Just as we were getting ready to head off, we received a text from Willow’s parents, letting us know they had arrived home. It felt weird that they were now back in England, whilst we were left to continue with our road trip.

After a couple hours of driving, we started to drive up the single track road which led to the BLM land we would be staying at. As we reached the top of the hill, we both looked at each other in disbelief of the views. It was as if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in South America. Our spot over looked many smaller hills, definitely not what we would have expected to find in California.

What a view!

We spent the rest of the evening taking pictures, as we witnessed one of the most magical sunsets we had ever seen. Washing away any leftover feelings of sadness we may have been feeling earlier in the day.

Moody skyline
Room with a view
Fabulous sunset

The spot wasn’t without fault. A strong wind had picked up around the time we wanted to go to bed. It was too strong to confidently raise the roof, and so we used the opportunity to test a new sleeping arrangement down in the van. As we had built two cupboards in the back, the rock’n’roll bed was not suitable to sleep to people. So we built an extended section, using the cushions that we slept on, and attempted to sleep staggered.

Our new sleeping arrangement wasn’t quite comfortable, and with the strong winds also, we suffered a mainly sleepless night. With Ruby exposed to the fierce winds outside.

We were great full for sunrise, and happily packed the van up and set off towards L.A. We powered through another long drive, stopping off at a free camp site just over an hour away from Los Angeles.

The car park had a cone blocking the entrance and a sign warning that vehicles would be towed. Unsure whether to risk it, we pulled up behind an SUV to scout out other options, but before we could get out our phones, the owner off the SUV spoke to us.

“You thinking off stopping in that lot?” He called over.

He reckoned that we would be fine as it was Friday night, and so based on a locals recommendation we thought we would give it a shot. It’s not like they would tow Ruby with us in the vehicle.

After multiple nights of early morning disruption, we actually managed to get a pretty decent night’s sleep. Our only real problem in the morning was all the over enthusiastic health freaks who parked up along the road to have an early Saturday morning job or bike ride. Even that wasn’t a real concern, as I waved to them all, walking Aimee around the car park on her lead in my patchwork pyjama bottoms, whilst drinking copious amounts of tea.

Ready to final complete our long track to L.A, we set off, stopping off at a beach camp site which had showers you could pay for by the minute. It had seemed like a life time ago since we’d showered last in Antony and Carole’s hotel room, and we were in desperate need of a proper wash.

Freshening up
Not a bad place to park

At least feeling clean, we hit L.A. The weather had picked up, so we wound the windows down and blasted out some of my favourite pop punk songs. Cruising through Beverly Hill towards the main strip.

We weren’t the only ones in need of a wash. The windy dirt track had not been kind to Ruby, coating her in a thick layer of dust and grime, and so we treated her to a wash. She had to look the part as she drove round.

We weren’t to only ones in need of a wash
Much better

We found some street parking and made our way along the Hollywood Strip, eagerly scouting the famous stars in the ground, hoping to see a name we recognised.

Famous Hollywood Boulevard
Apparently you can have a fake star made

I’m not sure how I pictured the strip to be, but it felt a little underwhelming walking down it. A part from the occasion star that we liked, the rest of it felt a little tacky. Endless cheap souvenir shops littered one side, whilst discount erotica shops covered the other side.

Battling our way through the crowds of tourists and selection of badly costumed Marvel superheroes, we aimed for the Hard Rock Cafe, hoping to grab a drink and use the WiFi to locate the Chinese theatre where all of the famous hand and foot prints were.

Sat surrounded by phenomenal rock memorabilia helped pick up our spirits and as luck would have it, we were literally right next to the famous concrete prints, and so we set off, although not without buying a guitar shaded spatula!

As you can imagine, the TCL Chinese Theatre was crowded, I was hell bent on finding the big three. Arnie, Stallone and Willis. Eager to walk in the footsteps of my movie icons.

Famous Chinese theatre
Tiny feet
Walking in the steps of film legends
You remember to pay our respects at Nakatomi Plaza

Bucket list ticked, we set back a long the other side of the strip back to Ruby. I had messaged a local VW club, who had responded with an invite to join them at their evening get together.

Brummie legend

Pulling into the retail park where they were due to meet, it seemed that I had missed a message from Brendan (the organiser) and apparently we had arrived a little bit prematurely, meaning we would have a couple of hours to kill before everyone else arrived.

Using the time to do odd bits and bobs, we started to see a few Beetles drive past, not long followed by Brendan in his high top bus. So we followed suit, pulling up alongside them, getting out to introduce ourselves.

Everyone was over the moon that we turned up to join them. We learned that the event has been a regular Saturday night fixture, with the hardcore group barely ever missing a meet.

Small VW

As it was cold, they were preparing some hot chocolate accompany a small cookout. In his rush to meet us earlier than expected, Brendan had forgot his kettle. Fortunately, we were able to donate ours to the cause, so we at least we felt as though we served some kind of purpose.

As the night wore on, we met another member, who was originally from Norfolk. Once again, it was strange to hear a family accent in the most unlikely of spots.

We spent the rest of the night talking, sippping on hot chocolate with additions and eating veggie burgers we bought from the local Walmart.

As everyone started to leave, we contemplated sleeping in the retail car park, deciding it would probably be better to find somewhere a little less busy.

Willow searched for a spot on iOverlander, but couldn’t find anything that sounded suitable for us. After a quick browse on Google maps though, she did find a spot that looked ideal and was just over thirty minutes away, so we set off.

The road leading to the spot was confusing, as we passed multiple signs warning that the road was only for private residents. However, at the end of the road was a public park. Cautiously, we drove as quietly as we could past the residential properties, Ruby not designed for stealthy driving. Once past, we park up in a spacious car park, with a great view down towards the main city. If all went to plan, we could have stumbled across a little gem of a parking space.

In the morning, we would continue our site seeing tour of L.A and drive down to the Hollywood sign and try to walk up to a suitable viewing spot. Hoping to find it more enjoyable than the strip.

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