thesticks

Saturday 11th June 1983

The weather is still dull, miserable and overcast. The smell of sulphur in the air is worse. LA feels like a suffocating, grimy place, not the playground of showbiz stars we expected.

Breakfast is served on cardboard plates with plastic cutlery.

Scrambled eggs, hash browns and ham. We had heard of hash browns but never seen or eaten them before. We ate them but still didn't know what they were. The whole meal was tepid. If this is the great US, the glamorous California, then the UK isn't so bad, despite its poor reputation for desirable cuisine.

The room cost $53, $56.98 with tax, so at the advertised rate, but we will have to remember prices quoted don't include the sales tax. 

400 miles at silly speed limit of 55 miles per hour

We drive out of LA on the Ventura Highway to the east, then south on Interstate 5 known as the Golden State highway and then finally east again on Interstate 10. Our journey was approximately 400 miles and at this silly speed limit of 55 miles per hour that means an almost eight hour journey. Huge great highways and such a low speed limit. It will take some getting used to.

Stewart drives the first part to Blythe on the California-Arizona border where we stop to refill with petrol which is so cheap and to buy an ice box, drinks and fruit. Stewart is uncomfortable in the heat and complains, but I don't think it is too bad. It is dry and a lot more comfortable than the humid heat in India, although it is actually hotter.

We resume our journey and I drive. We are stopped at the state border and an inspector looks at our fruit, oranges and grapefruits, but we don't know why. We cross into Arizona and drive for another 150 miles passing cacti and rocks, although some areas looked cultivated and there is a lot of scrub land cover. It may be desert but it isn't as bleak or barren as parts of Iceland.

Once we left LA the temperatures started to rise and soon the sun was beating down. Nice enough during the day, in an air conditioned car, but I am am worried that it will be too hot to sleep and we are still tired from the flight and the jet lag. With about 70 miles still to go before we arrive in Phoenix we stop at a rest area and take photographs. I was hoping to get pictures of cacti but there are none around here. We should have made time to stop at Joshua National Park, but we had pre-planned our itinerary and it rushed us through to Phoenix.

We had not planned where to stay in Phoenix, so we follow signs to Tucson but then turned towards what we thought was the city centre. Downtown! Our idea is to stay in motels while in the south and camp when we go north. I don't fancy camping in this heat where there is no grass, and it wouldn't be a good place for Stewart to camp for the first time. Not in a little tent, backpack style anyway.

This must be what they mean by fast food

We find a Motel 6 and I book a twin room. Two beds! We look at the map and plan a route for tomorrow. We will have to do some driving but it will be one of our sightseeing days so we want to keep the driving to a minimum. Stewart relaxes in the room while I go for a run. It is still hot but I don't think it is too hot. In the end I only run about 1.5 to 2 miles. I got tired quickly. I don't know if it was the heat or the jet lag and it was difficult crossing the roads.

After a short rest we head out to find something to eat and eventually settle for a Mexican cafe. The food is served very quickly. This is what they must mean by fast food. It was pleasant enough but not the best Mexican food I've eaten, but we were both hungry after living off fruit all day. And we didn't eat last night. Apart from the cardboard breakfast this is the first real meal since we landed in LA.

It is only 9.30pm but we have been up since 6.30am and we didn't sleep well last night. The tiredness is starting to make me miserable, so I decide to go to bed. I am beginning to miss Andy and wonder how easy it will be to call him.